TAMPA, Fla. - Once a surgeon repaired the torn extensor carpi ulnaris retinaculum in Mark Teixeira's right wrist, the Yankees first baseman was optimistic. Doctors told Teixeira he would rest for four or five months and be 100 percent healed at six months - the same timetable offered for Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr, who underwent the surgery on his left wrist last week.
"Hah," Teixeira said Sunday morning from his locker at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "No chance. No chance."
The 35-year-old slugger recalled the times after his July 1, 2013, surgery as some of the worst, a warning of what possibly lies ahead for Altherr, a young player the Phillies planned to learn more about in 2016.
The Phillies are hopeful that Altherr can return sometime this season. Teixeira made it back for the entire 2014 season, which was one of the worst of his career. He blamed the wrist.
"It bothered me probably for 18 months," Teixeira said. "At 18 months, I didn't feel it anymore. Now, you can play maybe at six months, but the kind of hitter I am, I really need my wrists. It's just the way it is. Yeah, you can swing and you can play, but it bothered me for a while."
The surgery for a torn wrist tendon sheath is not common in baseball. No injury is the same; hitters have different swings and different recovery capabilities. Altherr's experience is not guaranteed to mirror Teixeira's. Altherr, of course, is eight years younger than Teixeira was when he underwent the surgery.
But Teixeira said he consulted Jose Bautista and David Ortiz, both of whom suffered an injury to the tendon sheath at various degrees of severity. Bautista had surgery; Ortiz did not.
"I talked to them," Teixeira said. "They all told me the same thing: 'Yeah, you could play after six months. But it's going to take a while before you really feel good.' "
Hitters will say their power stroke is one of the last things to return after an injury to the wrist. Teixeira, who owned a career .527 slugging percentage before the injury, slogged to a .398 clip in 2014. He bounced back in 2015 with a .548 slugging percentage.
He tried to play through the pain during the early portion of the 2013 season but finally conceded that overuse contributed to it. Teixeira said he altered his swing in 2014 to compensate for the hurt wrist.
"So I didn't have the power and my swing went down the tubes," Teixeira said. "That was a tough thing."
He needed three cortisone injections during the 2014 season to quell the inflammation in his wrist. The injury, Teixeira said, hindered him beyond just swinging a bat.
"That was the other thing that was tough; half of the time when you're working out, you're grabbing something," Teixeira said. "You are holding onto weights. You're grabbing onto a bar. And I couldn't do that for six months, either. So I wasn't able to work out as hard as I would have liked. I wasn't as strong. You add that into having a sore wrist and it's a tough situation."
Teixeira said he had no prior wrist problems. He likened his injury to a pitcher's elbow blowing out after overuse.
Altherr, who had less serious surgery on his right wrist in 2013, requested a second opinion last week on his left wrist from Keith Raskin, the New York hand surgeon who operated on Teixeira. Surgery was decided as the best course for Altherr, who impressed with a .489 slugging percentage and 20 extra-base hits in 39 games last season. He has not returned to Phillies camp.
The road back, according to Teixeira, will be difficult.
Said Teixeira: "It wasn't a lot of fun."