Mark Teixeira slipped into the third spot in the Angels lineup with the smile of a player moving from a struggling team to a superior one.
The switch-hitting first baseman with 20 homers this season and two Gold Gloves in his career made his debut Wednesday night with Los Angeles, which had the best record in baseball heading into the finale of its three-game series with Boston.
The Angels obtained Teixeira on Tuesday from the injury-plagued Atlanta Braves for first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Steve Marek.
Teixeira's former teammates wished him well when they learned of the trade.
"The first thing they said was, `Good luck. Go win a World Series,'" he said before facing the Red Sox. "At the same time, I wished it was with the Braves. I wished that we had done better. It's time for me to move on, and now I have a great opportunity to win."
Beginning play Wednesday, the Angels were 66-40 with an 11 1/2-game lead in the AL West over Texas. The Rangers traded Teixeira to Atlanta at the non-waiver trade deadline last July 31; the Braves were 49-57 and 8 1/2 games out in the AL East.
The Angels have an outstanding rotation and bullpen and a potentially strong lineup. But they were only tied for eighth in the AL with a .261 batting average, ninth with 99 homers and ninth with 480 runs after their 6-2 win Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Teixeira was followed in the lineup by Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter and Garret Anderson.
"Mark is a guy that certainly can work counts," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He'll draw a walk. He has a high on-base percentage. We can adjust (the lineup), but I think right now, to be able to really feed Vlad and Torii and Garret, who are starting to really swing the bats to their capabilities, putting Mark ahead of them now makes sense."
Teixeira, 28, is making $12.5 million and can become a free agent after the season. He hasn't reached the playoffs in his six-year major league career.
"My number one goal is to win here," he said. "There's nothing else I'm worried about. If I do my job on the field, contracts, those things, will all take care of themselves. And whether it's here or somewhere else, it's not going to change the way I play the game.
"It doesn't do anybody any good to speculate what's going to happen after the season."
Teixeira has been one of baseball's most productive hitters. He had at least 30 homers and 105 RBIs in each of the last four seasons. He entered Wednesday's game with a career average of .286.
With Atlanta this season, he hit .283 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs.
Is he the last piece the Angels needed to make a solid run at their first World Series championship since 2002?
"I'm not going to say that," Teixeira said. "This team has so many pieces. I just want to be one piece that helps us win."
The Angels were 9-2 since the All-Star break going into Wednesday's game.
"We were playing good baseball before," Scioscia said. "So guys were coming in the clubhouse with confidence and bringing it onto the field. This gives us a little more added boost."
Teixeira originally was drafted by Boston in 1998 but chose to play at Georgia Tech.
Did he think he might have been traded to Boston, which could use a big bat if it trades Manny Ramirez, the subject of discussions with other clubs?
"You always hear different teams," Teixeira said. "You never know who it's going to be. It's always the last team you think of and the Angels didn't need to pick me up. They have a great team already. But I was glad they did."
Teixeira was told by Braves general manager Frank Wren that they were considering trading him.
"I appreciated that from him," Teixeira said.
And when he learned his destination, he was thrilled.
"When I found out that I was going to be an Angel, I was ecstatic," he said. "If you're going to get traded, you want to get traded to a team that has everything they need to go all the way. And this team does."
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