Ex-Brave pumped up for playoff debut

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ANAHEIM, Calif. --- Mark Teixeira was so stoked about his first trip to the postseason, he sought out advice from some of his October-tested teammates on the Los Angeles Angels.

Wondering how to best channel his emotions in the right direction, he asked center fielder Torii Hunter.

"The first thing Torii said was that you don't need to drink coffee in the morning on the day of a playoff game," Teixeira said with a grin.

After putting up outstanding offensive numbers over the previous five seasons but having no place to display his talents in the playoffs, Teixeira is finally getting his chance.

He started at first base Wednesday night when the Angels opened their first-round AL matchup against the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

Quite a change from past stops with the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves.

"As the season goes on, you get tired and worn down a little bit. But this season, I haven't felt that way one time because I knew I was getting to the playoffs and I knew that energy was going to be there," Teixeira said.

It took Teixeira 904 games to get to this point, along with a trade on July 29 that moved him from the Braves to the Angels for first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Steve Marek.

Playing in a combined 157 games with the Angels and Braves, Teixeira had 33 homers and 121 RBI along with a career-best .308 average. His 97 walks also were a career high, and it was the fifth consecutive season in which the 28-year-old switch-hitter had at least 30 homers and 100 RBI.

"Mark Teixeira brings a presence as one of the top hitters in the game," Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey said. "He's dangerous. He can change a game with one swing of the bat. I think his presence made that lineup even more potent."

With their two-time Gold Glover at first base, the Angels led the majors with a team-record 100 wins and won the AL West by a whopping 21 games over Texas.

Teixeira is hoping to extend that success, which is why he talked to Hunter and others.

Hunter, in his first season with the Angels but a four-time playoff participant with Minnesota, gave Teixeira more than tips on what to drink.

"He also said you have to focus that energy. This is not a game that you can go out running around like your head's cut off and swinging at every pitch. You have to focus your energy, swing at good pitches and still play your game. So Torii's given me some good advice."

In 54 games with the Angels, Teixeira hit .358 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI. His arrival and subsequent insertion into the No. 3 spot in the batting order has had a significant impact on cleanup hitter Vladimir Guerrero.

In 97 games before the trade, Guerrero hit .276 with 17 homers and 54 RBI. In his 45 games that followed, he batted .362 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.


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