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06/17/08 8:30 PM ET
Teixeira back in Texas in strange uniform
First baseman, traded to Atlanta last July, returns to Arlington
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- For the first time in his career, Mark Teixeira took the field at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington wearing a visiting uniform. After occupying the heart of the Texas order for the better part of five seasons, Teixeira was dealt by the Rangers to the Braves on July 31 last season in a seven-player blockbuster. There are no hard feelings, though, and Teixeira couldn't be happier where he is. "I'm in a great situation now and it was a good move for me," Teixeira said. "It was the right move for the Rangers, too. It was a great trade for them." The Rangers received five players in the deal, including part-time starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Before Tuesday's game between Atlanta and Texas, Teixeira was most looking forward to catching up with his former Rangers teammates, such as Michael Young, Hank Blalock and Gerald Laird. In his career, Teixeira has come across plenty of former teammates on opposing teams, but this was the first time he found himself on the other side of the field. "I called Mike today, and I'll say 'Hi' to him during batting practice," Teixeira said before the game. "It's always more fun playing former teammates. You don't root for them to get a hit, but you congratulate them if they get one and make it to first base." Teixeira joked he'd also recently talked to Blalock, who is converting to first base from third base, because Blalock was in need of a broken-in first-base mitt. As for Laird, Teixeira figured he'd talk to him when he came up to bat. "I'm sure Gerald will be talking trash behind the plate because that's all he does," Teixeira said. Teixeira admitted that now that he's in the National League, he hasn't been able to keep track of Texas on a daily basis, but he still cherishes the special moments during his playing days as a Ranger. Teixeira said the 2004 season was his most memorable as a Ranger. That season, his second in the Majors, Teixeira hit 38 home runs and drove in 112 runs, in addition to becoming the second Ranger to hit for the cycle at home, as Texas finished with an 89-73 record. The Rangers haven't finished above .500 since. In all, Teixeira hit 153 home runs as a Ranger and knocked in 499 runs. His hope was that, for all he gave Rangers fans in his time with Texas, he would be exempt from getting booed now that he's in the opposing dugout. "When Andruw Jones came back to Atlanta this season, the fans booed him," Teixeira said. "If fans can boo Andruw Jones in Atlanta, they can boo anybody." And the Texas faithful did just that. In Teixeira's first at-bat, he was greeted with boos as well as cheers, then he was greeted by Vicente Padilla with a fastball near the chin. Teixeira eventually flied out to center in the at-bat.
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.