It appears the Ruben Tejada problem has taken care of itself.
On the day after hearing a wake-up ultimatum or risk being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas, Tejada strained his right quadriceps going after a ball he had no chance of catching in Wednesday night’s victory over the Yankees.
That left the Mets with the easy option of placing Tejada on the disabled list, where he could stay for two weeks. Once Tejada begins a rehab assignment, the Mets will have 20 days in which to activate him. That’s nearly five Tejada-free weeks.
Tejada ran a long way for the ball – one of the few bursts of hustle we’ve seen from him – but to risk injury in a blowout game was senseless. Even worse, was he nearly took out left fielder Mike Baxter in a sliding attempt at the ball.
It was the latest in a series of head-scratching plays from Tejada, who had a brain cramp in the sixth when he looked the runner back to third despite a big lead and didn’t get the runner at first.
It’s one thing to make a physical error, of which he’s had many, but shortstop is a thinking position and he gives the Mets nothing when his mind is elsewhere. In some ways, his wandering mind reminds me of Angel Pagan.
Tejada first tested Terry Collins’ patience when he didn’t report early to spring training in 2012. Collins reasoned with Tejada to replace Jose Reyes, the new shortstop would want to get a head start.
Collins was clearly annoyed that Tejada wasn’t in good shape, but had few options. Tejada made things easier for himself with a solid offensive season, but defense – supposedly his strong suit – was erratic.
Tejada opened the season with a handful of errors in the first two weeks and has been shaky since. At the plate, he couldn’t break the habit of hitting the ball in the air, which makes him an easy out.
Tejada has not been able to seize the leadoff spot, and when he does get on there are times he looks clueless on the bases, such as when he was picked off second Tuesday night.
The Mets won Tuesday giving Tejada another day, but even without the injury, his play Wednesday warranted a demotion.
The Mets are expected to promote Omar Quintanilla today. Quintanilla was a last-day cut in spring training when the Mets opted to keep Kirk Nieuwenhuis as an extra outfielder. To make room on the 40-man roster, they could move Frank Francisco to the 60-day disabled list.
The Mets won despite Tejada in large part because of Jeremy Hefner’s strong start. Hefner has pitched well, but in bad luck lately. He’s pitched well enough to stay in the rotation, but the Mets must make a move when Zack Wheeler is ready.
One demotion possibility is tonight’s starter, Dillon Gee (2-6, 6.34 ERA). If not him, then perhaps Collin McHugh would go. The underperforming Shaun Marcum isn’t leaving because he’s getting $4 million this year.
After the Pittsburgh series, I wrote how the following two weeks could define their season. It didn’t look good in St. Louis and when they were swept by Cincinnati.
However, they have sparked interest with this four-game winning streak, and with two series coming up against Miami, they could see relevance again.
ON DECK: Dillon Gee pitching for his job.
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