PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Mets shortstop Asdrubal Ca brera left Thursday’s exhibition game against the Cardinals with left knee soreness suffered while running the bases in the first inning.
Cabrera injured the knee while tagging up from first base on a fly ball to center. He was replaced by pinch runner Ruben Tejada, who later hit a two-run homer in the Mets’ 7-2 victory at Tradition Field.
Cabrera said he isn’t worried about the injury. He was slated to have an MRI on Thursday night just to make sure it was as minor as he believed.
“I was running with the fly ball to second,” he said. “I was thinking to slide, but saw the bad throw, so I tried to stand up and I felt something in my knee. It’s all right now. I’m walking fine and I’ve just got to go do my [MRI] to see what we’ve got. I don’t think it’s [anything] serious.”
Even so, the sight of Cabrera walking off the field is a reminder why the Mets might decide to hold on to Tejada, who is being paid $3 million to back up on the infield.
The Mets view Tejada as “on the bubble,” according to one official, as they look to assemble their Opening Day roster. Tejada’s salary is expensive for what he provides, especially with the Mets having middle-infield depth — or at least until they watched Ca brera walk off.
The preference would be to trade Tejada, and those conversations could heat up in the coming days now that the Cardinals need to find a fill-in for Jhonny Peralta, who could be out as long as three months after surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. The Mets also could cut Tejada, and if they choose to do that more than 15 days before the April 3 opener, they will have to pay him for only one-sixth of the season, or roughly $500,000.
The current Cardinals candidates to fill in for Peralta are prospects Aledmys Diaz and Greg Garcia and former Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko.
“Ruben’s got something to prove,” manager Terry Collins said. “He saw the deal. He knew what was going on in the wintertime. A lot of people are talking about, ‘You’re not going to be around. You’re going to get traded.’ He’s going out there with a little chip on his shoulder.”