The New York Yankees have another injury concern, and it will affect Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.
First baseman Mark Teixeira was scratched from Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox with a strained right forearm and will not play in the tournament, USA manager Joe Torre announced after the 4-4 tie. Teixeira is expected to miss between seven and 10 days.
Teixeira sustained the injury while hitting off a tee before Tuesday’s game. In other words, it wasn’t directly related to WBC competition — an important distinction, since the injury risk associated with participating in the tournament remains a hot-button issue in baseball. “I certainly feel bad for Tex, but it’s one of those things that seemed to be unavoidable,” Torre said. “I guess it would have happened anywhere. I’m sorry it happened here. I’m sorry it happened at all.”
Tampa Bay Rays utility man Ben Zobrist replaced Teixeira at first base and batted ninth Tuesday, but Zobrist is unlikely to play there on a full-time basis. USA officials plan to add a new first baseman before the tournament begins Friday against Mexico.
“It sucks to see somebody like that go down,” said USA left-hander Derek Holland, who allowed one earned run in three innings against the White Sox. “I wish him the best and a quick recovery. I know he’s not on my team (during the regular season), but you don’t wish for anybody to get hurt.
“I was looking forward to playing with him. Great first baseman. Great stick, too. It’s sad to see him not be part of this.”
USA would like the new first baseman to be a left-handed or switch hitter, since so many of their power sources — Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton, Adam Jones, David Wright, Brandon Phillips — bat from the right side. Torre said the team’s right-handedness will be a “consideration” in replacing Teixeira but also acknowledged that Paul Konerko — a right-handed batter — was impressive against USA Tuesday, going 3-for-3 with an RBI.
Although it’s not clear who the top candidates are, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Freddie Freeman, Ike Davis and Adam LaRoche are all left-handed-hitting, U.S.-born first basemen. Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs is a U.S. citizen but has committed to play for Italy.
Teixeira’s injury is ominous for the Yankees, who are battling injuries this spring on a number of fronts. Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are coming back from offseason surgeries, Phil Hughes is suffering from a bulging disc in his upper back, and Curtis Granderson is out until May with a fractured right forearm.