MLB Spring Training: Ruben Tejada's Late Arrival Sets a Bad Undertone for Mets

Andrew Jordan@@Andrew_JordanSenior Writer IFebruary 22, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 14: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets reacts after grounding out to end the bottom of the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on September 14, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Following the departure of Jose Reyes to free agency last winter, Ruben Tejada was essentially given the starting shortstop role for the Mets this season.

During the last two years, Tejada has been a replacement for Reyes in the Mets lineup whenever their then-star shortstop was injured. During that time, Tejada has slowly matured into a better batter and has continued to highlight some impressive defensive skills.

Even with Ronny Cedeno joining the team this offseason, this position has essentially been Tejada's to lose. Yet Tejada has already taken a step in the wrong direction towards this 2012 season.

With double-play partner Daniel Murphy already at Port St. Lucie for Spring Training, Tejada has been nowhere to be seen.

Following the first official workouts for pitchers and catchers, manager Terry Collins discussed the Tejada situation with ESPN New York's Adam Rubin telling him, "I am a little surprised...I just wish he was here."

Collins went on to say in that interview, "It's never too soon to start working on your trade, especially with a new second baseman. There will obviously be a lot of work to do when he gets in...I pretty much suggested to get down here early."

According to Rubin, Tejada has a visa issue and will pick up his papers at the American embassy in his native Panama on Thursday. Tejada is expected to arrive in camp Saturday, which is the day position players are due to report.

Normally something like this should be a side issue, yet what Ruben Tejada has done sets a terrible undertone to start off Spring Training.

The NL East will be tough for the Mets and Tejada to handle
The NL East will be tough for the Mets and Tejada to handlePatrick McDermott/Getty Images

Considering the tremendous odds that the Mets face just to get a playoff spot in a difficult National League East will be tough. In order to just contend in that same division, considering how the Mets are structured at the moment, it will take a great season from everyone at the club to reach the playoffs.

Yet having the replacement for your biggest offseason loss show up later than expected does not help out.

Daniel Murphy already made the effort to show up early for Spring Training in order to perfect his own skills at second base. It should only be appropriate that you get to Florida early in order to help out Murphy in his transitional phase after missing the end of last season due to a sprained ligament.

Murphy is now working with former Met Tim Teufel in Port St. Lucie and it would be a big benefit for everyone involved for Tejada to be there.

Regarding Tejada's visa issues, he should have worked to get them resolved at an earlier date so he could have been in Florida to start working out earlier.

Many other players come to the United States from elsewhere early in order to work on their form, and the same goes for Tejada in this situation.

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