BALTIMORE -- Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has traditionally been a slow starter. But he made a few adjustments before the season that helped him start much faster.
Teixeira, who grew up 20-30 minutes from Oriole Park, said he spent more time hitting in the offseason and during Spring Training. That could be why he came into Sunday's game against the Orioles batting .279 with six homers and 16 RBIs.
"I hit a lot more this winter, but I also hit more in Spring Training and lifted less weights," Teixeira said. "I think it's more of a flexibility and bat-speed issue. This Spring Training, I hit more, lifted a little less and I came in with a pretty quick bat."
In past seasons, Teixeira consistently started slow but always seemed to rebound in late spring and get hot in the summer. But he said he was preparing to get through the grind of a 162-game season.
"We play 162 games; we don't play 25," Teixeira said. "If we only played 25, you'd better believe I would focus all of my attention on having the best 25 games I can. But we don't do that. We have to focus on having the best 162, and sometimes, preparing for a long season, you have to play with your preparation. This Spring Training, I did."
Girardi puts Martin plunking in the past
BALTIMORE -- Entering Sunday's series finale against the Orioles, Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't expect any carryover from an incident during Saturday's 15-3 win in which Russell Martin was hit near the shoulder blades by Baltimore right-hander Josh Rupe after the catcher had hit two home runs.
Girardi clearly wasn't thrilled with the plunking but said that tensions rise when teams play each other often.
"When you play each other 18 times ... there are going to be moments that get hot," Girardi said before Sunday's game. "That's just the bottom line."
Girardi said that he was most concerned about the fact that Martin was hit just a few inches below the head. But the manager said that Martin is fine, and he was in the starting lineup on Sunday.
"What happened last night's ugly," Girardi said. "It's unfortunate. [Martin] gets hit close to his head, which is obviously very dangerous."
But the one positive for the Yankees, according to both Girardi and slugger Alex Rodriguez, is that things like this can help the team bond even more.
"Situations like that, moments like that, just bring our team closer together," Rodriguez said after Saturday's win.
Girardi said that only Rupe knows for sure if he was trying to hit Martin on purpose. Rupe denied doing so afterward, but Girardi said the Yankees made their best statement seconds after Martin was hit.
That's when Brett Gardner followed with a two-run homer.
"Sometimes that's the best way to make your point," Girardi said.
Yanks rest Soriano due to back tightness
BALTIMORE -- Setup man Rafael Soriano wasn't available to pitch in Sunday's 6-3 Yankees win over the Orioles in 11 innings due to some tightness in his lower back.
Both manager Joe Girardi and Soriano said they don't think the discomfort is serious, saying that it surfaced for the first time on Saturday. The skipper told Soriano to take it easy on Sunday.
Girardi said the Yankees will evaluate Soriano on Monday, but the skipper isn't worried. Soriano said his back was better on Sunday than Saturday.
"I anticipate if it's not tomorrow, we'll have him back Tuesday," Girardi said.
Soriano said he hasn't felt this particular discomfort before.
"I don't think it's serious," Soriano said. "I think I'll be ready tomorrow. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
Slugging Granderson comfortable at No. 2
BALTIMORE -- Curtis Granderson batted second on Sunday for the second time in as many games. He's also hit eighth and ninth in the past several days.
But the Yankees' center fielder -- who hit a two-run homer in the top of the first inning on Sunday -- said that batting second is just fine with him.
"For the most part, the only thing that's going to be the only change is if I'm batting second," Granderson said. "Whatever the leadoff guy does, if he possibly makes a first-pitch out, then I've got to go ahead and be a little patient."
Whatever Granderson is doing, it's working -- wherever he bats.
Granderson was hitting .267 heading into Sunday's game. The first-inning homer was his seventh this season, and he's now hit 21 since last Aug. 14.
The homer extended Granderson's hitting streak to eight games, so it's easy to see that he's helping with his bat wherever manager Joe Girardi puts him in the lineup.
The five-homer outburst in Saturday's 15-3 rout of the Orioles gave the Yankees 35 round-trippers this season, plus 11 multihomer games. They lead the Major Leagues in both categories. New York has hit homers in 15 of its first 17 games this year. ... With his second-inning double on Sunday, shortstop Derek Jeter tied Frank Robinson -- who had 2,943 career hits -- for 31st on the all-time list. ... Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 12 games with his first-inning hit on Saturday night. ... The Yankees just began a tough stretch in which they'll be playing 16 games in 16 days through May 8. They played 16 games over the first 23 days of the season before that, thanks to routine off-days and three rainouts, all of which haven't yet been rescheduled. ... Injured catcher Francisco Cervelli is 3-for-10 on his Minor League rehab stint with Class A Tampa. He played eight innings as Tampa's catcher on Saturday and could return as soon as next week. ... The Yankees entered Sunday's series finale with a 13-4 record in their last 17 games at Baltimore.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.