Teixeira homers in Yankess win

March 28, 2009 3:13:56 PM PDT
Mark Teixeira is fitting in quite nicely with the New York Yankees. The first baseman, who signed an eight-year deal worth $180 million in the offseason, hit his second spring home run and raised his Grapefruit League average to .391 as the Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves 6-4 on Saturday.

"I've been spending a lot of time in the cage and my swing is coming around," Teixeira said. "By opening day, I should be about where I want. It takes a while when you are a switch-hitter."

Teixeira was 2-for-2 and walked against Braves starter Jair Jurrjens. His homer came on the first pitch of the fifth inning and sailed well over the fence in right-center field.

"We've got a great lineup and I'm going to get pitches to hit all season," Teixeira said. "We should score a lot of runs."

Atlanta All-Star catcher Brian McCann had to leave in the first after being struck on the right ring finger by a foul tip by Teixeira, but said it was just a bruise.

"We caught a break there," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.

McCann started five consecutive games so he could catch the entire Atlanta rotation after missing much of spring training while playing for the United States in the World Baseball Classic.

"It's just a bruise," McCann said. "I should be able to play in a couple days."

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter bruised a knuckle on his left pinkie when he was involved in a collision at first base leading off the game. He left after three innings, but isn't expected to miss any time.

Jurrjens gave up nine hits and six runs in five innings, but three of the runs were unearned after an error by shortstop Yunel Escobar in New York's four-run second inning. He walked three and also gave up a homer to Robinson Cano.

Brett Tomko, trying to win the long reliever spot in the Yankees' bullpen, lowered his spring ERA to 1.17 with three scoreless innings as the starter. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out one.

"It's probably the best spring I've ever had," said Tomko, a non-roster invitee who's coming off arm surgery. "I'm just trying to win a spot and I'd be happy in any role that they'd give me."

Tomko got the start because Chien-Ming Wang stayed in Tampa to pitch in a minor league game. He allowed nine hits and four runs in five innings in the Triple-A game, with three strikeouts and a walk. Two of the hits were homers.

Atlanta rookie Jordan Schafer, battling for the starting job in center field, had three hits to raise his average to .396. He also made a nice running catch.

"He's got speed and he can patrol center field," Cox said. "He's looking good at the plate, too. He's going to be a good one."

Melky Cabrera, competing for the Yankees' center field job with Brett Gardner, also had three hits and is batting .346.

Notes: Atlanta released left-handed reliever Jeff Ridgeway, leaving 35 players in camp. ... Garret Anderson, out since early March because of a strained calf, is expected to DH for the Braves on Sunday in the game against Detroit at Lakeland. First baseman Casey Kotchman, sidelined more than a week with the flu, is also slated to play. ... Atlanta LF Brandon Jones left Saturday's game in the second inning because of a stomach virus. ... Xavier Nady had three hits for the Yankees. ... A.J. Burnett, 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his first spring with the Yankees, will start Sunday's game in Tampa against Pittsburgh. ... Javier Vazquez, acquired from the White Sox during the winter, will pitch for the Braves against Detroit. He has a 1.74 ERA in two starts after pitching for Puerto Rico in the WBC.