Terry Collins said he planned to speak with Ruben Tejada on Saturday, when Jose Reyes’ successor at shortstop is supposed to make an on-time reporting to Mets camp.
With Scott Hairston working out Friday at the complex for the first time this spring training, the lone position players who did report early were middle infielders Ronny Cedeno, Omar Quintanilla and Tejada.
New York Mets
Collins had proposed to Tejada to work out in Port St. Lucie in November with organization strength coach Jason (“Nitro”) Craig. Then, the manager suggested, Tejada could go home to Panama for the holidays and return to the Mets’ Florida complex in mid-January to get a very early start with new double-play partner Daniel Murphy.
Not only did Tejada not follow through with the voluntary suggestions, he also largely was unreachable by team personnel during the offseason.
“I know when he walks through the door he’s going to be in good shape,” Collins said. “He’s just too good a kid. But I’m going to explain to him that there’s a process here when you’re the guy. When you have people -- the David Wrights and all of those other guys that are here early, Jason Bay and, shoot Johan Santana has been down here a month, he’s been down here since right after the first of the year -- maybe it’s only eyewash at times, but it shows people you really want to be ready. That’s going to be brought up.
“But I’m not going to embarrass him,” the manager continued. “I don’t do that. This kid is a big part of this puzzle, and I’ve got to get him ready. That basically is going to be the message: Hey, look, we need to get a head start here. We need to get out of the gate first. You’ve got a new second baseman you need to work with, and it would have been nice for you to get down here and get started. And that’s all it’s going to be.”
Collins said Tejada reminds him of former major league infielder Jose Vizcaino. The manager agreed with former infield coach Chip Hale's assessment that Tejada probably will be in the middle among major league shortstops defensively. But the skipper believes Tejada will be more proficient at making the play on balls he gets to in the third-base hole than Reyes.
Collins pledged for Tejada and Murphy to always play together in Grapefruit League games to get acclimated to each other.
Tejada, Cedeno and Quintanilla all are expected to report Saturday, on time.
“All three shortstops,” Collins said. “Maybe they’re all on the same plane.”
• Santana has been bumped from the March 5 Grapefruit League opener opposite Washington Nationals left-hander John Lannan, to the following day. Collins said pitching coach Dan Warthen and he forgot to script in a day for Santana to long-toss, which the southpaw prefers. Santana still would be on track to pitch Opening Day. “There’s nothing wrong,” Collins said.
• Despite twisting an ankle, Mike Pelfrey threw a bullpen session in the main stadium Friday. “He’s fine,” Collins said.
• Collins told Jon Rauch he may be used for an out in the seventh, then continue on in the eighth in relief. And while the manager typically will double-switch in those situations, he told Rauch to prepare this spring training to bat once in a while during the season. Rauch is 2-for-21 in his major league career at the plate, including a homer in 2004 off none other than Roger Clemens in an Expos-Astros matchup.
• Pitchers will begin throwing live batting practice to hitters Saturday.