Mark DeRosa is waiting for a call back from Mark Teixeira, his friend and former teammate with the Texas Rangers.
DeRosa, now with the Toronto Blue Jays, says a wrist injury “wrecked” his career – and he wants to issue a warning to Teixeira, the New York Yankees’ first baseman.
“Don’t come back until it’s right or you’ll never be right again,” DeRosa said. “Your bat speed, your stability, your power, your stamina, everything (gets) compromised by it.”
The injury-depleted Yankees had a rare good day on Saturday, with both shortstop Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera making positive impressions in their first appearances of the spring.
Teixeira, 32, suffered a strained tendon in his right wrist Tuesday and will miss 8 to 10 weeks, according to the Yankees. A more extended absence would increase the urgency for the team to acquire another corner infielder.
DeRosa said he had a different problem then Teixeira – he tore the tendon sheath in his left wrist, then re-tore it, then ruptured the entire tendon, undergoing surgery in October 2009 and again in July 2010.
DeRosa’s new Blue Jays teammate, right fielder Jose Bautista, tried to return from an injury to his left wrist last August, but required surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath in September. He is now fully recovered and on Saturday hit his third home run of the spring.
Teixera’s injury, as described by the Yankees, is not as severe as either DeRosa’s or Bautista’s. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that in speaking with the team’s doctors, “I never heard anything about a sheath.”
Some in the industry, however, are skeptical that Teixeira will meet the Yankees’ timetable and return in early May. Teixeira addressed the issue Thursday in a conference call with reporters.
“The doctors made it very clear to me that that they aren’t going to let me swing until it’s 100 percent pain-free,” Teixeria said. “However long that takes, we don’t know.
“That’s why we had the conservative 8 to 10 weeks. But we really don’t know how long it’s going to take before I can swing pain-free.”
The recovery time, if Teixeira eventually required surgery, obviously would be longer.
“I can’t rule that out,” Cashman said of surgery, “But it’s not something has been discussed.”
The prognosis could change, Cashman conceded, if Teixeira does not recover through rest and rehabilitation.
The Yankees, Cashman said, experienced such an outcome with outfielder Brett Gardner last season. Gardner injured his right elbow on April 17, suffered multiple setbacks and then underwent arthroscopic surgery on July 24, forcing him to miss nearly all of the Yankees’ remaining regular-season games.
Even if Teixeira’s condition proves worse than the Yankees initially believed, the team may refrain from disclosing such information to protect their leverage in trade talks.
The Yankees, according to major-league sources, privately expressed concern about third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s condition while exploring trades and free-agent signings at the GM meetings in early November.
However, the Yankees did not publicly reveal until the winter meetings in early December that Rodriguez would undergo surgery on his left hip and miss at least half of the 2013 season. They signed his replacement, free agent Kevin Youkilis, on Dec. 14, and are now looking for either a first baseman or third baseman, knowing that Youkilis can play either position.
Bautista said he was reluctant to comment on Teixeira without knowing his fellow player’s exact diagnosis. Still, even though Teixeira’s problem is said to be different, Bautista’s failed comeback last season could prove instructive. Bautista suffered his injury July 16 at Yankee Stadium, returned for two games in August, then underwent surgery.
“I knew what was wrong with me from the git-go,” Bautista said. “I knew if I had the surgery, I was going to miss out on the season. Because I wasn’t in a lot of pain, I was going to try to come back from it. But (after returning), my tendon was compromised.
“The movement, with the violent swing, made the tendon move around way too much. I could have, by doing that repeatedly, made the tendon suffer. That’s when I said it was time.”
Bautista said he experienced soreness at the start of spring training as he resumed swinging regularly, but that he is now “perfectly fine.”
DeRosa concurs – and then some.
“There are swings he has taken this spring where I’m like, ‘Ow!’ So obviously, he feels pretty good,” DeRosa said, laughing. “It’s just a matter of catching it in time and not rushing back from it.
“It’s something that, if I had handled it differently, it would have not been as big a detriment as it was. I got traded to St. Louis two days before (his initial injury occurred in June 2009).
“How can I walk into the clubhouse and say I’m going to shut it down, (even though) in hindsight it’s probably what I should have done? By the time it got fixed, it was not really fixable. I don’t think it has ever really gotten right.”
DeRosa can only wish better for his Teixeira, his friend and former teammate.
“He texted me back and said, ‘I’ll give you a call in a couple of days,’” DeRosa said. “I’m sure he’s going through the process.”