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Tejada struggles to get a handle at shortstop

Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets

Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets throws out Jose Reyes #7 of the Miami Marlins in the third inning at Citi Field. (April 24, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

A year ago, Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada didn't commit his third error of the season until his 28th game. This year, he had equalled that total in his first four contests.

"I've seen what everybody else has and that is he's made some very, very good plays but he's let a couple plays get away that we're so accustomed to him making every play it's shocking when he doesn't make a play," manager Terry Collins said following Friday night's 7-5 loss to the Marlins. "So, we just keep getting ready, and I know he's going to get better."

Based on his track record alone, things should indeed get better for Tejada, though the plays he's botched have been routine.

"It's tough because I know I have good defense," Tejada said on Saturday morning. "But I have to make the plays."

On Opening Day, he bobbled a routine grounder, throwing late to first base. On Wednesday, he bounced a low throw past the first baseman, Ike Davis. And on Friday, Tejada bobbled an attempted backhanded attempt, though he probably should have moved in front of the ball.

In the ninth, Tejada also dropped a throw from catcher John Buck while covering second base, allowing the Marlins' Justin Ruggiano to swipe a base.

Tejada wasn't charged with an error, though it was nonetheless the kind of ordinary play he's struggled to make through the first four games of the season.

"I don't want to make them, but it's part of the game," Tejada said of his rash of errors. "So, I have to keep working and make adjustments."

Collins dismissed any concerns about Tejada's focus in the field. Though he said the cold temperatures at Citi Field might be a factor, he refused to use weather as an excuse for Tejada's sloppy play.

"We know he's a better player than what's going on defensively right now," Collins said on Saturday. "If there's one guy in the field you want the ball hit at, it's usually him."

Tejada said he couldn't recall ever starting the season with so many errors, but he insisted that the recent miscues won't get in his head.

"No, no," Tejada said, with a wave of his hand. "It's just part of the game."

New York Sports