Teixeira's return highlight of series

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ARLINGTON, Texas --- Chipper Jones says he can't imagine what it was like to be Mark Teixeira on Tuesday.

The lifelong Atlanta Braves third baseman and his .403 batting average weren't the biggest story heading into the opener of a three-game series against the Texas Rangers. Instead, it was Teixeira's return to a place he spent five years.

Teixeira seemed the perfect fit -- right down to the nickname -- for a Rangers career at least as long as Jones' 14-year run with the Braves. For five years, "Tex" captivated fans as the slick-fielding first baseman who, like Jones, could hammer the ball from both sides of the plate.

Looming free agency led to a deal with Atlanta at the trading deadline last year, sealed by Teixeira ripping the financial commitment of the team that drafted him about the same time he was turning down a $140 million contract extension.

"We all have our day where we get released or traded or have to move on," Jones said. "I certainly hope that day never comes for me."

When the day of his return came for Teixeira, he didn't have any hard feelings.

"We had five great years here," said Teixeira, who spent Monday night at his house in suburban Westlake for the first time in months. "No hard feelings at all. I'm in a great situation now. I've never been happier."

He showed it by smiling a lot during a pre-game dugout interview with reporters, then making the rounds with hugs and handshakes while the Rangers took batting practice.

Teixeira enters free agency after this year, and he said there were no plans for talks until after the season. His agent, Scott Boras, has engineered some of the biggest contracts in baseball history. Teixeira's could be the next one.

"We're not the large market we used to be as far as payroll goes," Jones said. "If he wants to move on and go for top dollar, he's probably not going to get it here. But if he feels comfortable here and the Braves make a good offer, he'll sign back."

Teixeira still hasn't made a long-awaited playoff appearance because the Braves have missed the past two postseasons after qualifying 14 consecutive times. There's no difference between the teams this year -- both started Tuesday at 35-36, battling to stay in playoff contention.

Regardless, Teixeira's view of the trade remains unchanged.

"It was the right move for the Rangers," he said.


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