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Sandy Alderson reaffirms that Ruben Tejada is the Mets' shortstop

Ruben Tejada throws during spring training baseball practice

Ruben Tejada throws during spring training baseball practice Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: AP / Jeff Roberson

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada brushed off the latest round of barbs aimed his way by a team official who reportedly didn't believe he did enough to get into better shape this winter.

"I don't really pay attention, you know?" said Tejada, who spent eight weeks at a conditioning camp in Michigan. "Because I did my best in the offseason so I could come here with really good positive energy. Mentally, I'm good, so I'm not listening to anybody about that."

Tejada faced more scrutiny this week when a published report quoted an unnamed official who bashed the shortstop for not shedding enough weight.

In response, general manager Sandy Alderson insisted Wednesday that Tejada remains the team's No. 1 option at shortstop, partly because he's "in a good place" mentally.

"We're happy with the attitude he demonstrated in the offseason, and the greater enthusiasm and commitment we've seen here in camp," Alderson said. "It was unfair for a stray comment of that sort to be made. It's not something that I'm proud of in terms of how it necessarily represents the organization. But that happens."

Alderson said it was "pretty superficial" to evaluate Tejada's progress by using the eyeball test to gauge how he looks in uniform.

Still, Tejada may find himself without much leeway once Grapefruit League games begin, with the Mets expected to keep exploring other options at shortstop.

Stephen Drew remains an unsigned free agent. Though Alderson said the sides have not engaged in any recent dialogue, the shortstop may be motivated to come to an agreement with spring training games already underway.

"Nothing's changed from their standpoint," Alderson said of Drew, who spurned a $14.1-million qualifying offer from the Red Sox to seek a multiyear deal in free agency.

Drew's camp has also floated the notion of holding out until June, when teams could sign him without surrendering a compensatory draft pick.

Meanwhile, the Mets could follow up on interest that sources said they've expressed in Mariners infielder Nick Franklin.

But for now, without any other serious contenders in camp, Tejada appears to be the starter.

"At this moment, Ruben Tejada is the shortstop here," manager Terry Collins said. "We've got to be patient with him. Certainly, we're going to get him a number of at-bats this spring. He's been told that. And we'll see how he plays."

Alderson said the Mets simply want to see Tejada return to the form he showed before hitting .202 in a 2013 campaign marked by sharp criticism and damaging injuries.

"What we need from Ruben is the way he played for us the first year or so that he was in the big leagues," Alderson said. "We don't need him to be Cal Ripken Jr."


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