Ruben Tejada has prepared all winter to come into camp hoping that he could retain the starting shortstop job. Terry Collins has yet to make that decision, but with Omar Quintanilla, Wilfredo Tovar, and Wilmer Flores all ready to take their turns playing the position when spring games begin on Friday, Tejada’s hold on the job is far from certain.
In the cages on Sunday, during the morning workouts, Tejada seemed much more relaxed and was turning on the ball with something extra in his swing… The ball was just jumping off his bat… He even got some smiles from the coaches and his teammates who were waiting to bat next and were watching him intently. Honestly, this was not the same Tejada that I saw last season.
Standing just a few feet away, I saw the watchful eyes of Edgardo Alfonzo who was completely dialed into Tejada’s batting sessions. Fonzie was brought in specifically to help Tejada and Wilmer Flores, and there was a seriousness in how he went about his business.
Each time that Tejada was done with a cage session, Alfonzo was there telling him what adjustments he needed to make, and like an attentive student, Tejada listened and applied those techniques during his next session. The two of them were working in unison and it was special to just watch them work together.
The best part was the results. The next two times Tejada took his cuts, I saw some great effortless swings and even the sound of the ball hitting the bat was perfect.
However, this was batting practice and I wondered how it would translate into live game action. If Tejada can hit the ball like this and not revert to his uppercut from last season, the Mets may have something special here.
Maybe Tejada needed a wake-up call. Maybe what Collins and Alderson said about him this offseason fired him up. Whatever it was, Tejada showed up to camp highly motivated and with a chip on his shoulder.
I wanted to ask them each a few questions, but didn’t want to interrupt what was going on. I’m going to try and get a few words with Tejada after a week’s worth of games. I’m hoping that Fonzie got through to him and that we’ll see a much improved Tejada when he steps up to the plate.
(Photo by Anthony J. Causi, NY Post)