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Mark Teixeira's 2008 winter wish: to play the Angels in the ALCS

Now a Yankee, the ex-Angels first baseman heaps praise on his former team.

October 15, 2009|Kevin Baxter and Bill Shaikin

NEW YORK — After deciding to leave the Angels and sign with the New York Yankees last winter, Mark Teixeira reached out to former teammate Torii Hunter to wish him well. And he told him he had another wish as well.

"I told Torii in December I hope we play them in the ALCS," Teixeira said Wednesday. "And we're getting our wish."

Teixeira turned down a fortune from the Angels to accept an even bigger fortune from the Yankees -- $180 million over eight years.

And the move paid off handsomely for both teams.

For the Yankees, Teixeira led the American League with 39 home runs and 122 runs batted in, helping the team finish with the best record in baseball.

For the Angels, the money they didn't spend on Teixeira allowed them to sign closer Brian Fuentes, who led the majors with 48 saves, and former Yankees outfielder Bobby Abreu, who scored 96 runs and drove in 103.

They helped the Angels to their third consecutive division title.

And just to show there's no hard feelings on his end, Teixeira lavished praise on his old team and its manager, Mike Scioscia.

"They're just so professional," he said. "They do everything right. They're meticulous. They pay attention to the small things.

"You want to win every day. That's a team over there, just like us, that expects to win every game. And it's shown over the last six or seven years. These guys have been one of the best teams in baseball. And that confidence starts from Scioscia and goes down to every player."

Band on the run

Three out of every four runners who tried to steal against the Yankees were successful during the regular season.

And only one team in baseball tried to steal more often than the Angels.

So guess what the Yankees are expecting the Angels to do in the American League Championship Series?

"They're going to keep doing that kind of game," said Yankees catcher Jose Molina, a former Angel.

"So we just have to be prepared," he added.

Manager Joe Girardi, a former catcher, said he wants his pitchers to be aware of the Angels' running game.

But he has cautioned them not to let that change how they attack hitters.

Which is where a confident catcher like Molina comes in.

"I call the game and then I worry about the runners," he said. "I feel like I can throw a guy out on fastballs, change-ups, sliders. Any pitch."

On the run, Part II

The aggressive Angels are pretty good at picking up two bases at a time too, having gone from first base to third base on a single a baseball-best 119 times during the regular season.

That leaves the Yankees in a precarious position since left fielder Johnny Damon and right fielder Nick Swisher have below-average throwing arms.

"The most important thing is for the outfielders to charge the ball," Girardi said. "They need to get to the ball quickly. That has been addressed. If you lay back, they're going to go."



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