Tejada To Start At Short Tonight, Will Play Bulk Of Remaining Games
Ruben Tejada will start at shortstop on Wednesday night against the Nationals, according to Terry Collins, and will get the bulk of the starts at short the rest of the season.
“Everybody’s allowed to have a bad year. Everybody,” manager Terry Collins said. “He might look at this, 2013, as Ruben Tejada’s worst year. He may bounce back next year and resume where he was two years ago, and that, to me, was an up-and-coming player that brings a lot to the table.”
Which version of Tejada the Mets have for the final stretch of the season remains to be seen. New York recalled the shortstop from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday, and Collins said Tejada is going to be in the lineup on Wednesday.
It’s been a tumultuous season so far for Tejada, but he’s hoping to keep that in the past.
“The past is the past,” Tejada said. “I’m here to keep going forward, and keep doing my job and keep working hard.”
During a radio interview with WFAN last week, general manager Sandy Alderson said asking Tejada to do extra work is “like pulling teeth.”
“Every GM, they try to push each player to work hard, do his job and try to get better every day,” Tejada said. “That’s what I think and that’s what I know. I’m here to keep working hard and try to keep playing better.”
I hope he tears the cover off the ball…
As was reported on Sunday by Adam Rubin, Ruben Tejada is expected to rejoin the Mets today at Citi Field as they take on the Washington Nationals.
By delaying Tejada’s return for a week, the Mets are able to retain him for another year before he can hit free agency.
I don’t know what delaying his free agency really means for a player who seems to be in both the manager’s and front office’s dog house for the last two years.
Andy Martino spoke to two team officials this weekend. One of them said he was profoundly unimpressed by his work ethic and called him “a very disappointing kid”. The other official added that they “haven’t given up on him at all”.
Last week, Sandy Alderson said that one of the problems with Tejada is “it’s like pulling teeth” with regard to putting in the extra work to improve his performance on the field. “We need to see a commitment to improvement. He’s going to have to earn it.”
My take on this is that the team will do what it can this offseason to fill the shortstop position via trade or free agency. As I wrote yesterday, Stephen Drew and Yunel Escobar seem to be likely targets.
At 23, it seems a bit odd for an organization to give up like that on a player who posted a .284 batting average and .360 on-base when he was asked to step in at second base to replace Luis Castillo. Tejada showed a great deal of passion, baseball intellect and even had a penchant for big hits at the age of 20.
A season later, in 2012, he was asked to move over to shortstop and replace the iconic Jose Reyes. He held his own and batted .289, but clearly he was better suited for second base defensively where he rated as a plus defender the previous season.
Then enter 2013, where the problems began in spring training as soon as he arrived. He showed up to camp having put on a few extra pounds and the team expressed their disappointment to the media. Tejada went on to have an awful season in 2013.
Before he landed on the disabled list, he was moments away from being demoted after hitting just .209 with a .267 OBP over 50 games. So it was no surprise he was assigned to Las Vegas immediately after being activated from the disabled list.
The team believes he lacks any real commitment to improve as a player and that if he wants role on this he’s going to have to earn it. I like that approach, but I wish the Mets would apply it even handedly. There are some players on this team, many 3-4 years older than Tejada, who were given mile long leashes before the team acted.
Tejada went to Las Vegas and actually drove in the game-winning run that allowed the 51s to clinch a playoff berth. It was part of a five-hit day for Tejada who was selected as our Mets Minor League Player of the Week after batting .424 (14 for 33) with seven runs scored, a double, a triple, two home runs, five RBIs and four walks among his four multi-hit games that week.
Tejada finished the season batting .288 with a .716 OPS and in 269 plate appearances he struck out just 30 times, showing the strike zone judgement that impressed many during his first two seasons with the Mets.
My hope is that this doesn’t end up being another Carlos Gomez situation and that Tejada is traded and emerges as a solid and productive player with another team.
This new Mets organization is always being touted for their player development even though that doesn’t seem to be apparent at the major league level just yet. Here’s your test… Take this kid and actually develop him. We already know he has the offensive tools, and even has your plate approach down to a science, so what’s the problem? Invest the time and try to break through and get this kid motivated.
I keep saying that these issues of laziness and work ethic are more a matter of not enough people on staff to communicate and develop these Latino players emotionally as well as physically. Doesn’t it bother the Mets that Tejada does his offseason workouts with Robinson Cano and Jose Reyes? Instead of David Wright and Daniel Murphy? Doesn’t that tell you something?
About the Author: Joe DeCaro
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.
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