Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Wilmer to get legit look; Tejada SS for now
By Adam Rubin
Adam RubinPORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins all but said Wednesday that Ruben Tejada is penciled in as the shortstop by default.
It would be an upset, but Wilmer Flores is going to get a serious look at shortstop this spring training.
Still, while team officials continue to portray Tejada as the most likely starter on Opening Day for the Mets, they acknowledge a couple of other interesting possibilities.
A team official said Wilmer Flores will get a legitimate look as a shortstop in spring training -- not a passing glance.
The industry consensus has been that Flores does not have the first-step quickness or range for that position, which is why the organization abandoned playing him there in the minors after the 2011 season.
But the Mets intend to revisit Flores as a shortstop during Grapefruit League play, believing that if Flores is even passable defensively, he could be capable of hitting .270 or .280 and driving in 80 runs out of the No. 6 or No. 7 hole.
Another possibility: Mets officials continue to acknowledge Seattle’s Nick Franklin as a trade-acquisition candidate, with one team official noting the Mariners already have been poking around. The Mets do not sound inclined to be willing to give up their most elite pitching prospects in such a deal, however -- definitely not Noah Syndergaard, and not Rafael Montero, either.
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesTerry Collins said Ruben Tejada is the shortstop "at this moment."
Franklin, who made his MLB debut last season, is under Seattle’s control through 2019.
Alderson did not offer any indication there was anything close with free-agent Stephen Drew.
Mets officials acknowledge Tejada does not look appearance-wise much different than the end of last season. But they do salute his spending two months at a fitness and nutrition camp in Plymouth, Mich., this offseason -- away from his comfort zone in his native Panama.
The officials add that while Tejada may look underwhelming early in camp, the real determination will be made once Grapefruit League games begin.
They use the example of Lucas Duda, for instance.
Duda has looked as good as Tejada has been underwhelming so far -- hitting moon shots in batting practice. But the Mets want to see that performance in games, when it means something.
“At this moment Ruben Tejada is the shortstop here,” Collins said Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve got to be patient with him. Certainly we’re going to get him a number of at-bats this spring. He’s been told that. And we’ll see how he plays. We don’t have a lot of options. He’s our main guy right now.”
Sandy Alderson did not dispute the suggestion that Tejada looks similar to last season.
But, the GM told ESPNNewYork.com: “It’s not just about the physical consequences of a workout. It’s also the commitment he made to go up there [to Michigan] over a period of many weeks. And we’ve yet to see him play a game. So, from our standpoint, the most important thing was demonstration of commitment. That definitely happened. What we’re looking for from him is consistent, not spectacular play. That’s entirely possible based on what he’s done for us in the past.”
Collins said he wants to see line drives from Tejada, not balls in the air. He also wants to see range at shortstop.
Alderson, asked if there was a “strong possibility” the Opening Day shortstop was not currently with the organization, said: “I wouldn’t say that. No.”