PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - A slimmed-down Ruben Tejada said Monday that he had too much on his plate to worry about the constant chatter about his future.
In two stints this offseason, Tejada spent a total of eight weeks in Michigan, where he braved the cold to participate in a camp to improve his strength and conditioning. Once he was there, his focus remained on preparation.
"I feel really good," Tejada said before working out with other position players who reported early to camp. "I feel like new."
Certainly, the Mets hope Tejada is a new man after a season in which he hit .202 and lost his lock on the starting job at shortstop. With the Mets unlikely to sign free agent Stephen Drew, the 24-year-old Tejada is the starter by default.
Last year, Tejada arrived at spring training out of shape. This year, he believes he's leaner and faster. Manager Terry Collins said he spotted the improvement.
"This kid's never seen weather like that before," Collins said. "To deal with it -- not only one month but to go back and do it again when he could be outside in Panama running and fielding ground balls and instead he's in Ann Arbor, Mich., in a hundred inches of snow -- that tells you something."
If righthander Jenrry Mejia does not win the fifth starter spot, he could find a slot as a reliever. "He can pitch out of the bullpen," Collins said. "We've seen it." . . . Closer Bobby Parnell threw a second abbreviated bullpen session Sunday with no issues. Parnell is working his way back from neck surgery . . . Jeremy Hefner threw for the first time since Tommy John surgery in August. He's expected to miss the entire season.
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