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.