Teixeira opts for treatment instead of surgery

Yankees first baseman dealing with torn cartilage in right knee

Teixeira opts for treatment instead of surgery

NEW YORK -- Unfortunately for Mark Teixeira, cartilage doesn't heal on its own.

So for Teixeira, who was placed on the disabled list on June 4 with torn cartilage in his right knee, there are two options: manage and play through the pain or have surgery to repair the knee. Teixeira elected for the former, opting for a series of cortisone treatments, rest and rehab that will, by his hopeful estimate, keep him sidelined for three weeks before returning to action in some capacity.

In Teixeira's mind, the decision was a no-brainer. This has a lot to do with experience. Back in 2007, Teixeira suffered a similar injury to his left knee and elected to have the surgery, which kept him out for 4-6 months. Now nine years older and scuffling at the plate, Teixeira may not have the same ability to recover from such a surgery and return to his full self.

Because of that, Teixeira's focus is to get through 2016.

"Our whole focus was, 'can I get through this whole season?' and we determined yes," Teixeira said. "I can go through this season. I hope that I can get through this season. At the end of the season, I'll worry about how it feels. If it feels OK and I can play through it, I won't get the surgery. This surgery is not a fun surgery."

Teixeira's solo homer

The choice Teixeira made obviously raises a few concerns. For one, he'll be playing with torn cartilage in his knee, an injury that Teixeira acknowledged has the potential to worsen deeper from its present state if it's mismanaged. But even beyond that, Teixeira is a first baseman and a switch-hitter, two truths that increased the importance of knee flexibility. That said, Tex said he doesn't anticipate the injury holding him back on the field or at the plate.

"I don't think it'll limit me doing anything, I just think I'll have to be smart about it," he said. "If it swells up after a game, maybe I take the next game off. I'm not going to try to be a hero because we know we're not dealing with just soreness. You deal with soreness. We just have to keep the swelling down and keep the pain out of there."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said when Teixeira returns from the DL, he expects the first baseman to remain day to day and his time will have to be managed wisely. In the meantime, Girardi said he is confident in the combination of Rob Refsnyder and Chris Parmelee at first base.

"I think those two guys can handle it for us," Girardi said. "I really do."

Worth noting

Chasen Shreve threw a bullpen session on Tuesday for the first time since going on the DL on May 26 with a strain in his throwing shoulder. He said he was limited to around 20 fastballs and a handful of breaking balls. In the session, Shreve tinkered with a new pitch. Instead of his regular, conventional curveball, Shreve and pitching coach Larry Rothschild fiddled with his grip to throw more of a "spike curve." In a spike curve, instead of laying your pointer finger flat across the ball as you would with a fastball, a pitcher spikes his finger into the ball, affecting the ball's rotation.

• The Yankees optioned relief pitcher Luis Cessa to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Tuesday and replaced him on the active roster with Anthony Swarzak. Girardi said that Swarzak, a right-handed pitcher, is built up to pitch long relief just as Cessa is, and he wants Cessa down in the Minors where he will have the opportunity to throw more innings.

Nick Suss is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.