TAMPA, Fla. — Ruben Tejada knows a lot about playing professional baseball in New York, but the 27-year-old infielder, now a non-roster invitee to spring training with the Yankees, understands how much has changed since his days with the Mets.
“It’s a big city, and a different place to play, but I know it’s the same baseball,” said Tejada, preparing for an important spring as he tries to land a bench role with the Yankees after playing his first six seasons in the majors with the Mets.
Tejada’s downward spiral started in the 2015 playoffs when a questionable slide from Chase Utley took him out and broke his right fibula. The following March, he was waived by the Mets, and he spent two months with the Cardinals and three weeks with the Giants, hitting .167 in 66 at-bats, before being sent to the minors.
Can he be the player who hit .289 for the Mets in 2012, or even the one that hit .261 on a postseason team in 2015? He’s appreciative to have a chance to find out with the Yankees.
“I’m very happy to be here, and grateful they gave me the opportunity to come here and work,” Tejada said. “It’s an opportunity to work hard to win a spot on the roster. It’s a chance to be in the big leagues.”
Tejada hit .303 in 43 games in the minors last year but said he’s trying not to think about playing anywhere but the majors with the Yankees, knowing he’ll need strong, consistent work in the next seven weeks to make that happen.
“Right now, I don’t want to think about that,” he said. “My goal is to stay in the big leagues.”