MILWAUKEE — The Mets call him “El Niño” for his baby-faced looks, but there’s been no kidding around when Ruben Tejada steps on the field this season. After he was not even considered for the second-base job in spring training, Tejada is making a case that he belongs in the majors, and not just as a short-term sub for an injured player.
The glove was never an issue. Tejada already has made a number of highlight-worthy plays at second. But after struggling at the plate last season, Tejada entered last night batting .317 (20-for-63) with a .371 on-base percentage. It’s a small sample, but just by watching his at-bats, his teammates can tell the difference.
“I can tell you from my own experience, during your first year, the game is so quick,” Angel Pagan said. “But he has more confidence now, and once you get that, you’re going to get better as a player.”
Tejada also is batting .313 (5-for-16) with runners in scoring position and .417 (5-for-12) during his four-game hitting streak entering last night.
“I think some of the older guys around him have done a good job of just saying, ‘Hey look, just put a good swing on it, use the field, spray the ball around, hit some line drives,’ ” Terry Collins said. “And as good as he plays defensively, he’s going to be a big piece.”