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Could Tejada be the future at shortstop?

New York Mets' Ruben Tejada hits a triple

New York Mets' Ruben Tejada hits a triple in the fourth inning against the Florida Marlins during game 2 of a doubleheader at Citi Field. (Aug. 29, 2011) Credit: John Dunn

In a perfect world, one where the Mets had Jose Reyes at shortstop for the next decade, the next month would likely involve Ruben Tejada getting the majority of starts at second base. The Reyes-Tejada double-play tandem has the potential to be a spectacular combination and working on that chemistry for 2012 would be a worthwhile goal for the remainder of this season.

The problem with that is Reyes' pending free agency, and while Terry Collins is hoping for the best in those negotiations, he also has to prepare for the worst. That's why the manager is forced to go with more of a 50-50 split at second, with the possibility that Tejada could very well be his everyday shortstop next season and Justin Turner his second baseman.

"I think I've seen it enough early," Collins said of the Reyes-Tejada connection. "I've got to be careful. I don't know what's going to happen throughout the next six months, so I don't want to form a relationship that can be broken."

If Reyes does leave, Collins seems confident that Tejada can be a worthy heir and has been effusive in his praise of the 21-year-old infielder.

"His mental makeup is so far beyond his years," Collins said. As for shouldering the burden of shortstop at a young age, the manager didn't sound worried. "I wasn't here, but Jose Reyes did it. Omar Vizquel did it. I know they were great, but you've got to start sometime."

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