Showing quite the flair for the dramatic, the Mets on Monday night introduced injured shortstop Ruben Tejada last among the reserves during the ceremony before Game 3 of the NLDS at Citi Field.
Tejada, whose right leg was broken by a hard slide by Chase Utley of the Dodgers during Game 2 on Saturday night, used a blue cane with orange "NY" logos on it as he limped from the first-base dugout to the baseline to join his teammates.
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The crowd, which moments earlier had lustily booed Utley, broke into cheers and chanted, "Ru-ben, Ru-ben!"
"It was special," said Wilmer Flores, who filled in for Tejada and went 2-for-3 with a walk in the Mets' 13-7 victory. "There's no other word . . . It got us on fire. We've got Ruben's back."
The Yankees used a similar maneuver last week before their wild-card game against Houston at Yankee Stadium when injured first baseman Mark Teixeira was introduced on crutches. And the Pirates brought out injured infielder Jung Ho Kang in a wheelchair before their wild-card loss to the Cubs.
"I saw Rubie come in about two, three hours before the game," Daniel Murphy said. "It was definitely nice to see him out there. He's been a really, really big piece for us this year. I think it was well-deserved for him to get out there and for the fans to cheer him and recognize what he's meant to this ballclub all season."
Turns out the Mets have two folk-hero shortstops now: Flores because he cried and Tejada because he was injured in what Mets fans think was a heinous act by Utley, who was suspended for two games by MLB. The suspension is on hold, though, as Utley appealed. He was available on Monday night but did not play.
Tejada has not spoken publicly since his season ended Saturday night.
"I talk to him every day," Flores said. "He's fine. He can't control that. It happened."
Tejada and Flores shared shortstop for most of the season, but Tejada started the first two playoff games as the steadier defender.
Flores handled the first play of the game, a grounder by Howie Kendrick, earning a larger-than-usual ovation from the amped-up crowd.
"A lot of excitement," Flores said. "It was fun."