Controversy Still Follows Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada
Davis and Tejada had miserable seasons for the Mets last year. The Mets were counting on them to anchor first base and shortstop, respectively, but they both took a huge step in the wrong direction, on and off the field.
Davis got off to a terrible start in 2013, just as he did in 2012. Unlike 2012, he was unable to turn his season around. He hit only nine home runs all year after finishing with 32 in ’12. He argued often with umpires, and blamed his struggles on not getting enough pitches to hit. It was obvious that even when he did get a cookie down the middle, that his timing was completely off.
In 2012, his early struggles may have been a result of the case of Valley Fever he contracted prior to the season, or the fact that his 2011 campaign ended in May, resulting in a rusty swing. Last year, there were no excuses readily available for Davis. His plate selection was brutal and his swing was as long and hitchy as ever.
Yesterday, Mike Puma of the NY Post reported Davis actually played with an oblique injury in 2013. Davis kept the injury concealed, ostensibly to save his spot in the lineup. Davis responded to the report with anger, according to Adam Rubin:
On Monday morning, Davis loudly chastised the Post reporter who wrote the story in front of teammates and other media. The first baseman then told reporters he had merely acknowledged having a nagging injury for a couple of months before the oblique eventually popped — just as plenty of other players during the course of an MLB season have nagging injuries they do not report because they do not want to be pulled from the lineup.
Asked if Davis was mad enough to take a swing at him, Puma quipped, “if he takes a swing at me, he might miss.” Ba-zing!
As for Tejada, an anonymous source from the Mets organization apparently told the NY Post they were frustrated with his conditioning.
“He looks pretty much the same,” the source said, referring to the results of an offseason conditioning program Tejada attended. Well, of course he looks the same. He wasn’t exactly Mickey Lolich last year. Tejada’s always been pretty slim. The point of the conditioning program was more about improving his quickness and stamina than turning him into Mr. Universe.
Tejada’s always been the subject of the side-eye from Mets management. Manager Terry Collins admonished the shortstop for being late to Spring Training in 2012 (even though technically he was right on time). Tejada went on to have a solid year, hitting .289/.333/.351 while playing at least major league average defense.
Last year, the team lost confidence in him quickly when his averaged dropped to the Mendoza line, and his fielding ability underwent a noticeable decline.
If the Post’s source is legitimate, Tejada may find himself out of his position before Opening Day. The Mets are still interested in free agent Stephen Drew (though they don’t wish to overpay him), they are thinking about trading for Mariners’ shortstop prospect Nick Franklin, and they’re even giving Wilmer Flores reps at shortstop this Spring, a position he hasn’t played in three years (Flores attended the same fitness camp this year, and the team is happy with his agility).
No matter their potential, and no matter their talent, it seems like Davis and Tejada will never find success wearing orange and blue.
Sandy Alderson tried to trade Davis all offseason, but potential suitors found his asking price (usually a top pitching prospect) to be too steep. It may be in Alderson’s best interest to find a way to move Davis now, even it means lowering his standards for a return.
Should the Mets choose to find a new starting shortstop, Tejada can still provide value as a utility infielder, but being human, he has to feel a little betrayed by his own organization.
Whether the solution is moving them, or simply sitting them down and reconciling their differences, the problems surrounding Davis and Tejada could become a clubhouse drama all season long, unless they are dealt with now.