GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mark Teixeira’s stay with the U.S. team at the World Baseball Classic didn’t last long.
The Yankees slugger strained his right forearm while taking some light swings off a tee in the batting cage Tuesday, forcing him to withdraw from the tournament even before the Americans could play the Chicago White Sox in the first of their two scheduled exhibition games.
X-rays were negative and an MRI revealed the strain, U.S. manager Joe Torre said. The Yankees said in a statement that Teixeira will be evaluated further Wednesday by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser.
“It wasn’t something he wouldn’t be doing (with the Yankees),” Torre said after the U.S. played to a 4-4 tie with the White Sox. “It was just a freak thing.”
Torre said that there have already been conversations about who will replace Teixeira but no decisions have been made. The U.S. opens pool play Friday night against Mexico.
“I’m not throwing any names out,” Torre said. “We certainly are looking to fill this spot as soon as possible, so you know I’ll meet with my coaches. We’ll try to figure it out.”
Torre may not have been discussing options with reporters, but he did bring up White Sox slugger Paul Konerko with his manager, Robin Ventura. Konerko went 3 for 3 and drove in a run against the U.S. team in their exhibition game at Camelback Ranch.
Other names that are likely to be discussed are the Brewers’ Prince Fielder, the Angels’ Mark Trumbo, Mets first baseman Ike Davis and the Red Sox’s Mike Napoli, who can catch and play first.
Torre said he couldn’t say when the decision will be made because there are so many moving pieces, such as whether players are interested and their situation with their teams.
“We’re just taking names,” Torre said. “But again, Tex was a switch-hitter, which was ideal for us, and left-handed wise, we have a couple switch-hitters and (Joe) Mauer. Otherwise, we’re pretty lopsided right-handed. So we’re going to have to see what’s the best bet for us.”
The Rays’ Ben Zobrist started at first base for the U.S. team on Tuesday. Mauer can also play first base, while the Diamondbacks’ Willie Bloomquist also has experience there.
Teixeira is the latest Yankees star to be injured this spring. Curtis Granderson broke his forearm on Feb. 24, and even general manager Brian Cashman has been hurt — he broke his fibula and dislocated his right ankle while skydiving to raise awareness for the Wounded Warriors Project.
Torre said the injury to Teixeira was particularly disappointing because the Yankees star had been so excited about playing. Teixeira actually broached playing for the U.S. when he saw Torre at a fundraising dinner in New York City shortly after Hurricane Sandy.
“I hadn’t picked a first baseman yet and I just happened to be at a banquet with Tex,” Torre said. “He mentioned the WBC and I said, ‘Are you interested?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, if you need me, I’m interested. … That was the night, basically, he knew he was coming to us.”
Torre, an MLB executive vice president, said he’s sensitive to the risk of injury that comes with playing in the tournament. But he also made clear that the injury happened while Teixeira was going through his normal routine, and not as he was taking part in the competition.
“If they want to find something wrong, they can use that,” Torre said. “I certainly feel bad for Tex, but it’s one of those things, it just seems like it’s unavoidable. … You never want to wish a thing like this upon any player, especially here in spring training.”