Injury-Riddled Mets Considered Teenage Shortstop Ruben Tejada




NEW YORK—In June, general manager Omar Minaya floated the idea in the media of promoting 19-year-old Ruben Tejada from Double-A Binghamton to fill the Mets' shortstop void.

At the time, Jose Reyes had been on the disabled list for a month and Ramon Martinez's back was barking.

Team officials ultimately concluded it didn't make sense to promote the young Panamanian because he doesn't need to be protected on the 40-man roster until after the 2010 season. Still, Tejada couldn't help but hear about the possibility.

"Yes, I heard it," Tejada said through an interpreter. "But that's neither here nor there. I just have to focus on what I have to do."

With Reyes entrenched at shortstop, Tejada's future may be at second base for the Mets, so they began getting him playing time at the position. When shortstop Jose Coronado came down from Triple-A Buffalo to Binghamton in mid-May, he and Tejada alternated between the middle-infield spots.

Tejada quickly adapted to second base, which he had previously played only in instructional league.

"He's been doing a great job playing second base, turning the double play," his manager Mako Oliveras said. "The first thing I look for is the double-play situation, if he's a little afraid of the runner. But he's got instincts."

Tejada finished the first half batting .278/.353/.358, but with just two home runs.

"He's a 19-year-old kid who weighs 160 pounds," Oliveras said. "I'm not going to say he's going to be a home run hitter, but he's going to hit a lot of doubles. Sometimes, like a typical young hitter, he tries to create more power than what he's got right now. He's the type of guy who gets better with better competition."

Playing Tejada in Double-A as a teenager follows the Mets' recent pattern of challenging their young Latin American prospects. Tejada wore down last year at high Class A St. Lucie, though team officials indicated an extensive weight training program contributed to the fade.

His hectic schedule then included playing in Hawaii Winter Baseball, followed by the World Baseball Classic this spring. Panama lasted just two games and was bounced, with Tejada going 0-for-4.

METAMORPHOSES

• A pair of well-regarded Binghamton prospects landed on the disabled list: catcher Josh Thole (dislocated thumb) and righthander Jenrry Mejia (strained middle finger).

• Rookie outfielder Fernando Martinez was expected to miss six to eight weeks after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.