Mark Teixeira had barely checked into camp when he chastised those doubting the aging Yankees’ chances at retaining their AL East crown.

"It’s actually fun when everyone else counts you out," Teixeira said. "Because it just kind of makes guys want it a little bit more."

Come again?

"Well, all you hear about is the Blue Jays. And that’s good, they had a heck of an off-season," Teixeira said of the blockbuster moves that have prompted some pundits to install Toronto as the division favorite.

Plus, "we have five quality teams in our division," Teixeira said. "It used to be that you had to maybe worry about one or two teams. [Nowadays] every single game in our division is going to be tough."

Yankees position players will conduct their first official workout this morning, though Teixeira is on an accelerated pace as Team USA’s first baseman for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Known for his sluggish early springs at the plate, Teixeira hopes the WBC provides a cure. Teixeira phoned batting coach Kevin Long this winter and said, "Let’s not build up to opening day. Let’s build up to the WBC.

"Let’s build up to the first of March."

In advance of the WBC, Teixeira has scaled back his usual weight-lifting program. In previous seasons, Teixeira would continue heavy lifting through spring training, but said the inherent tightness and soreness might have contributed to his shaky springs.

All told, Long believes that Teixeira’s WBC participation could have a positive impact on his fifth season in pinstripes.