Terry Collins Scolds Ruben Tejada for Arriving On Time

Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training on February 20th. Position players are expected to report to Port St. Lucie by the end of today, February 25th.

Ruben Tejada is due to arrive in Miami at 3 p.m. today; I’m not sure how long it will take for him to clear customs and travel to Port St. Lucie but I’m guessing that once he gets there, he won’t have time to do anything other than show up and be scolded by Collins.

This is what Collins said publicly when he found out Tejada would not be arriving early:

“I take great pride in the game itself, and respecting the game itself,” Collins said. “And I wish everybody had the same respect for it, that they wanted to get started as early as possible.

“I pretty much suggested to get down here early. I probably should have spelled it out.

“I know Ruben will come in great shape. I know he’ll be ready to go. I just wish he was here.”

Oh boy. There are a few issues here, the main being that Tejada is not required to report early. Personally, I’m with Collins on this, but it wasn’t too smart to make his feelings public. Couldn’t such statements raise an issue with the MLBPA? Further to the point, why is Collins using the press to express his displeasure? He’s been with the NYC press for a year now and should know better. Where is the filter? Is he truly unaware that such statements to the press will only lead to extra pressure on Tejada when he does finally arrive?

More recently, Collins had this to say:

I’m not going to embarrass him. I don’t do that. This kid’s a big part of this puzzle, and I’ve got to get him ready.

And that’s going to be the message: ‘We need to get a head-start here. We need to get out of the gate first. We’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.’

Well, Terry, it’s too late — you already DID embarrass the kid by spouting off about your desire to have him in camp early. Agreed, it would have been nice for him to get down there early, but again, keep that to yourself, and let him know — in private — when he reports to Port St. Lucie.

As an aside, Ruben Tejada is not the only Met arriving exactly on time — Ronny Cedeno and Omar Quintanilla report today as well. Which means the Mets technically have had no shortstops in camp to this point. Cedeno is flying in from Venezuela, and Quintanilla, I believe, lives in Texas; there are no reports as to why they have chosen to report on time instead of early, and Collins hasn’t mentioned their absence.

Last year, another middle infielder — Luis Castillo — arrived on time, irking Collins. Collins didn’t know at the time that Castillo stayed back to be with his brother, who was going in for serious, emergency surgery. Still, the fact that Castillo didn’t arrive early set the tone for the rest of camp. He likely still wouldn’t have made the team, but his arrival time didn’t score points with his new manager.

Of course, it’s not fair to compare that situation with Tejada, who is only 22 years old and perhaps didn’t fully comprehend Collins’ desire to have him arrive early. Tejada is still a kid, wet behind the ears, and maybe didn’t take into consideration the possibility of the office being closed when he went to pick up his visa — which was part of the reason for his delay.

At the same time, Tejada’s on-time arrival looks bad, considering he’s poised to fill the big shoes left behind by Jose Reyes. And again, though I agree with Collins’ feelings, I completely disagree with his choice to go public with them — it doesn’t do anyone any good. In fact it smacks of the type of irresponsible bus driving reminiscent of his predecessor.

Collins is frustrated, I get it. His team is looking like a last-place club, he no longer has a superstar shortstop, he has a train wreck at second base, and the neophyte expected to anchor an infield full of questions decides to show up when he feels like, instead of according to Collins’ agenda. But as a manager in the Big Apple he has to put his emotions in check and keep the media pressure off of the 22-year-old Tejada — the kid has enough to worry about.

On the flip side, I really do wonder what it was that prevented Tejada from wanting to get to Florida early — really early, like in January, when other Mets began their training. Does he have family issues at home? Was he working with someone special in his native Panama? Does he not believe he needs the extra work? Or is he just naive, plain and simple?

I also wonder if Tejada is expecting, and prepared for, the attention he’ll get from the media upon arrival. I imagine his agent will let him know about the public statements made by Collins and prep him accordingly.

This should blow over quickly, and will, assuming Tejada comes in and does the wonderful job everyone is expecting. But, there is that slight chance Tejada comes in, says the wrong thing to a reporter, and/or gets off to a sluggish start in camp — in which case this molehill can turn into a mountain.

What’s your thought? Was Collins right to “send a message” to Tejada through the media? Should Tejada have arrived early? Could this have been handled differently? Answer in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. JoeBourgeois February 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm
    Yeah. Very dumb thing for Collins to have said.
    I did read … somewhere … that the Mets office found Tejada to be “hard to reach” this off-season, or something like that, so that may explain some of Collins’s frustration. But not enough of it.
  2. AC Wayne February 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm
    Stories like these remind me why I still haven’t warmed up to Collins yet. As the manager, he should’ve kept his mouth shut and understood that Tejada is coming from another country where there may be different procedures to follow. My hat goes off to Murphy, Wright, all those players who arrived early…who live in the U.S. but you can’t compare their situation with Tejada’s. Let’s face it, this may be Collins’ last year if the Mets do finish in last place
  3. argonbunnies February 26, 2012 at 1:37 am
    It’s a top dog move. Collins knows he’ll get no push-back from the green kid. He’d think twice before saying that about an established star.

    Tejada knows his place and will certainly be deferential, including with the media. I’m sure he won’t love Terry for this, though.

    Personally, I think everyone should treat this like a friggin’ job, and if you want people to report at a certain date, you as their bosses tell them to do it. Whatever date you tell them, you should expect them no earlier than that. Baseball players have lives too. If Ruben has priorities other than his job, good for him.

    • Mike B February 26, 2012 at 10:49 am
      Playing SS for the Mets is not a “job” it is a career. I dont know what you do for a living but showing up exactly when your supposed to is not really a good move in most careers. You show up early so you are ready when things get started. I applaud Terry, I am sick of these guys and their excuses. Again Argon I dont know your situation but most bosses wont hold your hand threw your job whatever it is. It is up to you to make the right decisions in life, Terry said he kind of gave him a heads up he wanted everyone there he should have been there.
      • Joe Janish February 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm
        Mike, I think you and Argon are in agreement, yet it sounds like you’re arguing. Seems you both believe Tejada should have arrived early — right?
        • Mike B February 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm
          Joe from his comment I got that if the Mets wanted Tejada there early they should have asked him to arrive early. I tend to disagree and think a player like that shouldnt have to be told to be to camp early. If I am still reading this wrong I am sorry but I have it Argon attacking Mets brass and I am attacking Tejada.

          I do agree that Collins would have never did that to an established player.

        • Joe Janish February 26, 2012 at 10:52 pm
          Maybe I’m just confused. It does seem like we’re all on the same wavelength.

          For the record, Terry Collins claims he told Tejada to show up early. In fact, Collins intimated that he wanted Tejada to spend several weeks prior to spring training in Florida, working out with Murphy and others. So either Tejada chose to defy Collins’ wishes, or Collins didn’t make his message clear enough. Either way, it makes it look like Collins failed miserably in the communication process. If a manager can’t communicate with his players, what is his purpose?

        • Dan February 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm
          Collin’s own words indicate poor communication, and not keeping it private makes him doubly wrong. The team has enough problems without bush league BS like this.
        • argonbunnies February 26, 2012 at 11:29 pm
          Today’s reports offer a slightly rosier possibility: that Collins asked Tejada to show up early, and Tejada tried, but Tejada didn’t leave enough lead time for Panama to process his visa. So Terry just lectured him on planning ahead to deal with bureaucratic lag time, and emphasized that his presence is important to the team. Case closed.

          Not saying this is what actually happened, but, hey, it at least seems possible…

          Terry still shouldn’t have taken it to the media, of course.

        • argonbunnies February 27, 2012 at 3:56 am
          Never mind. Looks like my optimism was unfounded:

          ESPN: Tejada knew Collins wanted him in Florida all winter

      • argonbunnies February 26, 2012 at 11:15 pm
        Mike, I think you’re being more practical about this and I’m being more philosophical. Obviously it’s in the best interests of Tejada’s career if he sacrifices everything else for the sake of his career. He should know full well that not showing up early is a bad career move.

        I simply resent the hypocrisy in a system which formally tells the players’ union one thing and then pressures the players to do something else. Your collectively bargained rights aren’t worth much if exercising them hurts your career. Maybe there is no better solution. I don’t know.

        • Mike B February 27, 2012 at 9:07 am
          OK as long as you agree that we were in fact disagreeing.

          We are both right anyway. Way to start off the post Reyes Era.

      • argonbunnies February 26, 2012 at 11:24 pm
        Separately, whenever A-Rod brags about working out all day every day, I look at his mess of a personal life and think of Ken Caminiti. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone I root for. As long as each Met seems legitimately dedicated to helping the Mets, I’m not gonna second-guess how much time they choose to spend on life outside baseball.
  4. Dan B February 26, 2012 at 11:24 am
    Tejada’s family and friends live in Panama. He won’t see them again until October, unlike American players who see their families during the season. I understand though I still thought this is a special season in his career and he should of made the sacrifice this one time.
  5. mic February 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm
    If Tejada comres to camp 10 pounds overwweight….then fine.

    Anyway…The BIG news so far is Kazmir vs Harvey vs Santana.
    -I give Kaz a minor league deal and see if he can get healthy
    – I SAVE santa untill May, let him build up arm sttrength and do some time on the recovery tour.
    – IF Harvey can compete with the awesome likes of Gee and SChwinden, he goes North.

    • Izzy February 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm
      No mic, the big story here is the end of David Wright’s time as a Met. The Nats give Zimm 100 mil for 6 year extension and no trade clause. The Mets say adios to anther fine player. And before the miracle of the minors all come to save the day, Ike will be gone as well because he will want first baseman money. The small market cycle will last until or should I say unless the crooked Wilpon’s are forced out.
  6. Realist Mets Fan February 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm
    We should take a moment and remember who Terry Collins is: a career baseball man who has succeeded at every level except as a manager. As a manager, he has been a terrible failure, with both of his teams going on to become winners the moment he quit (each time after the team turned against him). Collins is a tempermental bully who likely will not be around this time next year. Tejada complied with his contract and showed up on time. I don’t even know what Collins is talking about.
  7. DaveSchneck February 27, 2012 at 12:27 am
    This story is a big deal about nothing. Collins get to show some intensity and that he has expectations for this squad regardless of the pundit predictions or blogosphere’s dismay. Tejada will get over it, as will his teammates, and he has more than enough time to prepare. As always, it will ultimately be about performance on the field in real games.
  8. Walnutz15 February 27, 2012 at 10:42 am
    This is the kind of stuff that doesn’t seem so “significant” to certain fans; but in the inner-workings of a baseball club — it holds weight to a degree.

    Collins really made a bigger deal of this in the press than he might have otherwise, provided Tejada had done the right thing in the past…….so I wouldn’t take it “lightly”.

    Remember that the Mets had gotten on him at one point for a no-show to an appearance he was supposed to make in 2010 – he blew off attending baseball camp with people waiting on him….and his excuse was that he “overslept”.

    Think they’re trying to “crack the whip” on him, so to speak…..especially in handing him an everyday position; due to Reyes moving on.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to show up early, provided your Manager requests it half a year in advance.

    As far as Tejada’s concerned, sounds like he added 10 lbs. to his frame – and is in “great shape”. So that’s a plus:


  9. Walnutz15 February 28, 2012 at 11:53 am
    In the event that needed further clarification:

    Tejada, pro athletes bring disappointment
    Published: 01:22 p.m.
    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Baseball World Training School’s campers were disappointed last Wednesday when Ruben Tejada, an infielder for the New York Mets, didn’t show up for his spot as guest instructor at Baseball World last Wednesday. Owner Vince Diaco sent one of his instructors to pick Tejada up at Citi Field, but he didn’t show up.

    Many youngsters were looking forward to see him, the Connecticut Post and Norwalk Hour sent photographers and Channel 12 stopped by to do a story on it, but it turned out everyone sacrificed their plans in vain. Diaco tried feverishly to find out what happened and New York Mets hitting coach Howard Johnson expressed his dismay towards Tejada for not keeping his commitment.

    It turned out Tejada was absent on Wednesday because he overslept and Baseball World rescheduled him to appear on Friday. Unfortunately for Baseball World’s campers, history repeated itself on Friday as Tejada was again a no-show and Diaco sent an instructor to Citi Field for nothing.

    “It’s not good to leave people hanging,” Baseball World instructor Dave “Big Daddy” Rogers said. “A phone call would have done. If he didn’t want to come, he should have been up front about it instead of agreeing to come and breaking his commitment.”

    The campers were let down by someone they worship and aspire to be like. Many wore New York Mets clothing and paraphernalia to show allegiance for Tejada and were let down by his absence.

    “It’s very disappointing that he didn’t come on Wednesday and it’s even more disappointing that he didn’t come on Friday,” Diaco said. “Professional athletes — like it or not — are role models for kids. If they make a commitment to do something, they should honor their word. A lot of kids were disappointed and upset.”

    Unfortunately, Tejada isn’t the only professional athlete to be a bad role model lately — in fact, it seems to be part and parcel of the culture of professional sports these days.

    Take the Lebron James circus as an example. The way James, the two-time MVP of the NBA, conducted himself before announcing where he was playing next year was narcissistic and down-right tacky. He is the first — and hopefully the last — professional athlete to have a one-hour special on TV to announce where he’ll play next year. The free agent should have handled his decision in a more professional manner.

    As for Tejada, he had a negative impact on many people, and unfortunately there’s really no way to make up for the damage he caused.

    We hope that Baseball World’s campers did learn something from Tejada, though, and that is what it feels like to let someone down. Maybe in the future, this next generation of baseball players will hold up their end of the bargain when they make a commitment to the people who look up to them.