10/07/2010 2:05 AM ET
What Teixeira didn't say after heroics
Slugging first-baseman is suffering from secret injuries
By Sam Borden / SNY.tv
Even though Mark Teixeira makes no excuses, he still managed to deliver the game-winning home run. (AP)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mark Teixeira doesn't like to talk about it because you're not supposed to talk about it, not supposed to bring up injuries at a time of year when everyone has something and everyone is hurting.

So Teixeira doesn't. Doesn't talk much about his broken toe and his throbbing thumb, the one that he apparently got a cortisone shot for a month ago (it was revealed Wednesday) and the one that might just require another injection before this Yankees run is over.

"I'm not sure Tex would ever tell me how much pain he is in," Joe Girardi said. "He's tough. Tex is really tough and has a high pain threshold. He broke his toe and played the next day. So I'm not sure that you would ever get it completely out of him."

That's fine. Teixeira is doing what he's supposed to do, saying what he's supposed to say. It doesn't change the fact that he won a game for the Yankees on Wednesday through gritted teeth.

Before the game, Girardi said his understanding was that the thumb pain was worst for Teixeira when he had to make diving stops. So of course Teixeira dove for Joe Mauer's ground ball in the third inning. And made the play.

Three innings later, he crushed a double off Francisco Liriano to start a four-run Yankees rally. Then one inning after that, he blasted a two-run home run to right that gave the Yankees the lead for good.

The crowd at Target Field, a sellout of 42,032, went absolutely silent as Teixeira rounded the bases. It was, he would say afterward, the sweetest sound he could imagine.

"Game-winning home runs?" Teixeira said. "There's nothing better."

He added, "Our lineup is so deep, there is never a reason to give up."

He is right. Teixeira had two important hits on Wednesday. Curtis Granderson, who spent most of the year looking completely overmatched (especially against left-handers), smoked a triple off Liriano (a lefty) that highlighted that four-run sixth. Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano had RBI's as well, giving the Yankees just enough offense to pick up CC Sabathia, who labored but still ended up getting the win in a 6-4 victory.

"It was great because CC has been picking us up a lot and just pitching his butt off," Teixeira said. "And for us to be able to score a few more runs for him and get him that win? He deserved that win."

He doesn't get it without Teixeira. Doesn't get it without the guy who is playing with a busted foot and a busted hand. It is a common joke around the Yankees that Teixeira is like a robot, someone who plays and trains and practices (and, sometimes, even talks) like a machine. But these injuries are real.

Not that Teixeira would talk about them. Mostly, he brushes them off. The thumb, he said, "is actually the worst when I swing and miss. So my goal is not to swing and miss."

More seriously, he said that the numbing power of the cortisone shot allowed him to resume his heavy regiment of extra batting practice, and it was obvious he felt more comfortable during the season's final stretch: He hit .131 from Sept. 4-23, then finished the year by hitting. 297 with three home runs over the Yankees' last nine games.

"The cortisone shot definitely helped," he allowed. "Hopefully we don't need another one [but] it is always in our back pockets. Hopefully we will play the next four weeks. If I need another one, I can get another one."

Whatever it takes, Teixeria said. Whatever needs to happen to keep him on the field, keep him producing. A year ago, he had a big moment in the division series, too. Hit a game-winning home run in Game 2 that sent the Yankees on their way to a three-game sweep.

Then Teixeira's bat disappeared. The Yankees won the World Series, but Teixeira finished the postseason hitting .136. That home run was his only one. He would drive in just two other runs.

In other words, he has seen beginnings like this one. Has seen big hits like this one turn into nothing more. Pain or not, Teixeira is committed to a different ending this time around.

"In the playoffs, it's not about quantity -- it's about quality," he said. "You just want to get big hits. ... And hopefully I can continue to do that."

Sam Borden is an award-winning columnist for LoHud.com and The Journal News and is a contributor to SNY.tv.
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