San Diego Spotlight: Miguel Tejada Reviving His Career with the Padres
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Miguel Tejada is playing grown man baseball at a grown-up time for the San Diego Padres.
Tejada became the 129th player in MLB history to reach 300 homers Wednesday evening against the Los Angeles Dodgers. But that isn't the only milestone the 36-year-old veteran is looking to accomplish this season.
It has been seven years since Tejada has played in the postseason. Both he and the Padres are in search of their first World Series ring.
Acquired the day before the July 31st trade deadline, the Padres' acquisition of Tejada didn't resonate throughout the MLB headlines for long. Yet, it is tough to argue in favor of any other deadline pickup having more of an impact.
Tejada has eight homers in 194 at-bats for the Padres after hitting just seven in 401 at-bats for Baltimore earlier this season. He is also batting .273 with 28 RBI in just 49 games.
The Padres initially acquired Tejada for his veteran bat and presence. While he has surprised Padres management with his glove, he hasn't surprised himself.
"We discussed the options [when Tejada was acquired]: left field, third base, second," manager Bud Black told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Then we put him at shortstop and we watched just to see what we had."
What the Padres saw was a 14-year veteran, six-time All-Star, and 2002 MVP with serviceable range that has committed just two errors in 49 games.
"I feel like I can get to any ball that anybody hits." Tejada told the Union-Tribune. "I really had it in my mind I could still play short, my natural position. I was training in the off season to keep my legs really strong, to keep in good shape just in case somebody needs me to play short."
Eligible for free agency at season's end, Tejada would prefer to stay put. Given the uncertain future of Everth Cabrera and the free agency of David Eckstein and Jerry Hairston Jr., the Padres may be in need of multiple middle infielders next season.
"He's been valuable," Bud Black said of Tejada. "I think (keeping him) is definitely worth discussion as we move into the winter."
"I would love to stay here," Tejada said. "I love to play with the young guys. I love this team. Right now, I'm enjoying the moment. I enjoy the situation right now and I try to take it one day at a time."
Tejada has a negative image in the court of public opinion due to previous alleged steroid allegations and pleading guilty to one count of perjury on Feb. 11, 2009 for lying to Congress.
Those will be interesting facts in building a Cooperstown Hall of Fame case for Tejada someday.
By the time he's eligible, he'll likely rank second or third all-time for homers by a shortstop and somewhere between fifth and seventh in RBI. He also won an MVP award and amassed a very impressive consecutive games streak—162 games in six straight seasons from 2001-2006.
It's safe to say a World Series ring in 2010 would bolster his Cooperstown resume.
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