NEW YORK -- First baseman Mark Teixeira returned to the No. 3 spot in the Yankees' starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the Royals after spending the previous two games batting seventh for the first time since his rookie season.
"The competitor in me says I want to hit where I've always hit," Teixeira said. "We've had a lot of success, and we've won a lot of games with me hitting third. It does mean something, but numbers are numbers. I don't think on anyone's Hall of Fame plaque it says where they hit in the order."
Teixeira hopes that dropping down in the order will help jumpstart his offensive production. Hampered by severely inflamed bronchial airways that have lingered since the first week of the season, Teixeira entered the series finale hitting .229 overall, and .209 in 19 games this month -- well below his lifetime .283 average in May.
Over the course of his career, Teixeira is a .287 hitter in the No. 3 spot, and it's where he's produced the majority of his power numbers.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he moved the switch-hitting Teixeira back to the three-hole because he liked his first baseman's chances against Kansas City's starter, left-hander Will Smith, who was called up from Triple-A Omaha to make his big league debut on Wednesday.
"You look what Mark has done over [this] period as a right-handed hitter -- he's been outstanding," Girardi said. "We have not swung the bats particularly well against left-handers so far this year, so I'm going with some track record and putting some guys where they've had a lot of success."
Teixeira attributed his early-season struggles to a new approach that hasn't worked. His .248 average last season led to some criticism, and he's tried to raise it by swinging at pitches he isn't driving for power. However, the difficult stretch this season has made Teixeira think he's putting the ball in play too much. Instead of waiting for a pitch he can hit for a home run, he's swinging at pitches and making outs.
"I've just been putting too many balls in play, I think," Teixeira said. "While last year, 39 home runs but a low batting average wasn't good enough, I think I'd rather hit 39 home runs than 20 or 15. I'd rather drive in 111 runs than 80. I'm going to be more aggressive."