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Teixeira doubling his—and Rangers'—pleasure

By Jack Magruder
October 15, 2002

Teixeira
Mark Teixeira
Photo: Michael Walby
PEORIA, Ariz.—Third baseman Mark Teixeira already is considered a prime candidate for major league stardom in the near future, so it may not come as a great surprise that he lit up the Arizona Fall League in his first two weeks of the season with Peoria.

But like this?

Teixeira, the Rangers' 2001 first-round pick, needed just 90 minutes to pull an Eddie Murray in his Fall League debut, homering from both sides of the plate at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Opening Day, Oct. 1. Future Hall of Famer Murray homered from both sides of the plate in the same game 11 times, a major league record.

And just to show it was not park effects or weather conditions or anything but talent and ability, Teixeira did it again five days later against Scottsdale at the Peoria Sports Complex--one a line drive onto the berm in left-center field, the other a line drive onto the berm in right-center.

"The one thing I love to see, he doesn't get cheated at the plate," Scottsdale manager Al Pedrique (Diamondbacks) said. "When he goes after the fastball, he goes after it. And he has a good two-strike approach, where he just tries to put the ball in play. I'm impressed with the kid."

What's not to like?

Teixeira, 2000 College Player of the Year at Georgia Tech, had five homers and 14 RBIs in his first two weeks in the AFL after going a composite .318-19-69 between Class A Charlotte and Double-A Tulsa this summer, his first season in pro ball. In addition to his two two-homer games, he had a homer, a triple and six RBIs in an 11-2 victory over Maryvale on Oct. 13.

"Obviously he's a talented kid," Peoria manager Razor Shines (White Sox) said. "He's swinging the bat from both sides of the plate pretty well. I didn't seem him this summer, but I read about him. From what I read, I don't think he got enough publicity. He's that good."

As much as Teixeira's bat, Shines said it is Teixeira's work ethic that has made an impression, even at this late date in what already has been a long first year.

"You see him in the cage. You see him fielding ground balls. He's a workaholic," Shines said. "He continues to work every day. Now obviously he's got some skills. You can look at his numbers and see he can swing the bat. But he really works at it, and I think that's the key."

Teixeira was 5-for-5 on Opening Day, homering righthanded in the fifth inning and lefthanded in the sixth in a 9-4 victory.

"I would say they were classified as 'no-doubters.' When they hit the bat, you know what it is," Shines said of his home runs.

"You have to love those kinds of days," said Teixeira, who hit .409 with 36 homers in three seasons at Georgia Tech, though he remembers doing it from both sides of the plate in a game maybe once.

"You don't really think about it. You don't go up there and say, 'I'm going to try to hit two out today.' But after you do it, you say it feels good to put two good swings on the ball. And when you are feeling good, good things happen because you take good hacks and you swing at good pitches."

Teixeira, 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, said he entered the Fall League season feeling strong after being given a break following the end of his minor league season.

"Taking two weeks off to kind of rest your body and recharge your batteries really helps out, because you are playing every single day," said Teixeira, who spent time in Tucson with Team USA in 2000. "I really like hitting out here in Arizona. The air is kind of thin, and the ball travels really well. So you put a good swing on the ball and you are going to get some hits."

Teixeira looks at the AFL, composed of top prospects from the 30 major league organizations, as an opportunity to test himself in an elite setting.

"I just want to get better and prepare myself for the big leagues," he said. "Hopefully in the near future I'll be there. I want to be able to make a contribution right away, so playing with the best of the best in the minor leagues out here is really a good way to show that.

"You look everywhere and you see top prospects all over the place--guys who are going to play in the big leagues for a long time. So it's really good to come out here and show that you can play with guys who are going to be in the big leagues in the future."

FALL GUYS

• Grand Canyon righthander Jerome Williams (Giants) carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning of his Oct. 12 start and gave up only one hit over five innings. Williams, the AFL's pitcher of the week Oct. 1-7, did not give up an earned run in his first 12 innings. He was 6-1, 3.59 at Triple-A Fresno over the summer, giving up 140 hits in 160 2-3 innings while striking out 130.

• Scottsdale righthander Bobby Jenks (Angels), one of the AFL's top prospects last fall, struck out seven in four shutout innings Oct. 12 and did not give up an earned run in his first 10 innings.

• Scottsdale pitching coach Larry Carter (Royals) was hospitalized for a few days while having tests early the second week of October but returned Oct. 11 for three games. Carter was to have further tests the following week, with his status to be determined. Diamondbacks minor league coach Mark Davis, who was the Scorpions' pitching coach last season and was with Double-A El Paso this summer, has spelled Carter.

• Maryvale third baseman Drew Henson (Yankees) homered back-to-back days Oct. 8-9 against Grand Canyon, once at Maryvale and once at Scottsdale Stadium, the home park of both Scottsdale and Grand Canyon.

• Mesa first baseman Hee Seop Choi (Cubs) homered twice, doubled and had four RBIs in a 13-7 victory over Scottsdale Oct. 10. Choi and outfielder Mike Hill (Astros), the Nos. 3-4 hitters in the lineup that day, had seven hits, seven RBIs and six runs. Hill had four hits, including a double.

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