09/22/2009 12:44 PM ET
Mark Teixeira: A strong September
MVP candidate emphasizing division title, staying healthy
This final stretch of regular season games is really important. We still have goals to meet, and we want to finish the season strong. We want to wrap up our division and maybe even the best record in the American League.
We're also fortunate to be playing good teams this week -- the Angels and Red Sox. They're playoff teams, so these games will help to keep our intensity level high.
Last year at this time, I was with the Angels, and we had a huge lead in the AL West. It's definitely a different feel this year. First and foremost, we haven't wrapped up our division yet, and the Red Sox aren't making it easy on us.
Last season, I got my first taste of postseason baseball, which should help me a little this time around. The way I look at it is that the more experience you have in something, the better. Our clubhouse has a lot of postseason experience, so hopefully that will help, too.
Coming to the Yankees, I got the sense right away that the playoffs are an absolute must for this franchise -- even more so this year, coming off a season in which they didn't get to the postseason. One year away from October baseball -- they didn't like that.
All season, our goal has been to change what happened last year, and so far we've done a good job with that goal.
Now we're one win away from being the first team in the AL to clinch a playoff spot, which is great, but there will be more work to do when that's done. That division title is very important to us, too.
We also want to stay as healthy as possible through the final stretch of regular-season games. You have to find that happy medium. You don't want to push yourself so hard that you are out of gas for the playoffs, but you don't want to let up, either.
In his first year with the Yankees, switch-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira is batting .292 with 37 homers, 42 doubles and 118 RBIs, the latter the most in the American League.