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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Optimistic Mark Teixeira says, ‘We’re back to being the Yankees again’

02.17.14 at 8:05 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
College basketball: North Carolina at Florida State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Delaware at Towson, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Baylor, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Mississippi Valley State at Southern, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Olympics: Women’s hockey semifinals, United States vs. Sweden, 7 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Figure skating, 10 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s hockey semifinals, Canada vs. Switzerland, noon (MSNBC)
Olympics: Men’s ski jumping, women’s biathlon, 1:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s biathlon, men’s snowboarding, men’s freestyle skiing, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s curling, Denmark vs. Britain, 5 p.m. (CNBC)
Olympics: Figure skating, men’s snowboarding, men’s freestyle skiing, men’s ski jumping, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s bobsled, 1 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s hockey qualification, Slovenia vs. Austria, 3 a.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

– After his lost season of 2013, Mark Teixeira is looking forward to returning to the diamond. He tested his surgically repaired right wrist in batting practice Sunday at Yankees training camp and voiced optimism about the team following an influx of free agent signings this offseason.

“Look at our lineup; we’re back to being the Yankees again,” Teixeira said, via the New York Daily News. “Last year, we weren’t the Yankees.”

Coming off an 85-win season and a third-place finish in the American League East, the Yankees spent $423.5 million to acquire Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka to bolster a roster that was decimated by injuries last year.

“We had a great offseason; it was fun to watch,” said Teixeira, who played just 15 games in 2013. “I was texting [Brian Cashman] every two weeks, telling him congrats on another signing and a great offseason. I basically told him, ‘You did your job, now it’s time for us to do ours.’

“No excuses this year. We have a team that can compete for a world championship.”

Teixeira, who turns 34 in April, said he’ll take things “a little bit slow” early in camp, but he plans to play 150-plus games this year and be a key part of the lineup.

“There’s not one guy that has to carry this team, but absolutely I expect to hit in the middle of the order, hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs,” he said. “That’s going to take pressure off everybody and help us win games.”

Added Teixeira: The team needs me, absolutely. It’s something I’ve taken a lot of pride in, my entire career — being healthy and being out there for my team, playing through injuries, playing through soreness. Last year I just couldn’t play through it. I know that when I’m out there and healthy, my team is a better team. And that’s no different this year.”

– Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested after an incident with his fiancee in Atlantic City on Friday. One of Rice’s attorneys told the Baltimore Sun that the player was charged and released after a “very minor physical altercation” with the woman, while another predicted: “Once we’re able to go through the evidence, it should wind up to be little more than a misunderstanding.”

The Ravens released a statement that read: “We are aware of the Friday night situation with Ray Rice and his fiancee. We have spoken with Ray, and know that they returned home together after being detained.”

Rice, a three-time Pro Bowler, is coming off a disappointing 2013 season. The 27-year-old rushed 214 times for 660 yards and four touchdowns, while catching 58 passes for 321 yards.

Kevin Durant undoubtedly would be thrilled to have the success LeBron James has had of late, but the Thunder star has heard enough comparisons between himself and the player who has won four of the last five league MVP awards.

Asked during All-Star Weekend how tired he is of questions about comparisons to James — during a media session in which he was hit with at least 10 questions about LeBron and/or the Heat — Durant replied: “Um, about a 25. It’s every day, I mean. You should really focus on how good LeBron James is. I think people should appreciate that more than always comparing guys. In our world, you want to compare everything. You judge everything. That’s just how we are.”

Added Durant: “Let’s just sit back and judge basketball as we play it; not just LeBron and myself, but other guys in the league, too. Just enjoy it, because it’s here today and gone tomorrow. A lot of people take it for granted.”

James, meanwhile, said he was OK with talking about the player who has finished second to him in MVP balloting three times. He noted that Durant is having his best season coming off an offseason in which the two players worked out together.

“It just happened that way — what a coincidence,” James said. “When we both worked out a few times, we came into the season better prepared, better trained, better mentally. I don’t mind [Durant questions] at all. I’m a truthful guy. I don’t sugarcoat nothing.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 17, 1972, Bruins center Phil Esposito recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 victory over the Flyers in Philadelphia and became the second player in team history with 250 goals. Who was the first?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “After a long offseason and thinking about things and seeing where I was at both physically and personally, I just made the decision that I’€™€™m not going to pitch in the 2014 season and go from there.” Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster, announcing his plans to sit out the season

STAT OF THE DAY: 318 – Points scored in Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game — a 163-155 victory for the East — breaking the previous record for an All-Star Game total by 15 points

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): From the NBA Development League’s slam dunk competition, Tony Mitchell wins the title with an impressive array of dunks, including one in which he takes a bounce pass thrown from teammate Ron Howard in the stands.

Warriors guard Steph Curry hits three halfcourt shots in a row during the Western Conference All-Stars practice Saturday.

A blind man, Michael Quin of Springfield, Mo., hits a 3-point shot during a halftime contest at College of the Ozarks and wins free McDonald’s for a year.

A fan at an Auburn basketball game putts a golf ball the length of the court — 95 feet — and through a small hole in a sign to win a car.

Sunday’s American Hockey League game between the Adirondack Phantoms and Portland Pirates devolves into a brawl in the final minute.

A young Bills fan on his way home from having his wisdom teeth removed — and still feeling the affects of the anesthesia — gets emotional about his team’s struggles. He ends with: “And I hate Tom Brady.”

TRIVIA ANSWER: Johnny Bucyk

SOOTHING SOUNDS: The late Gene Pitney was born on this day in 1941.

Read More: Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Mark Teixeira, Ray Rice