Originally posted on MetsZilla  |  Last updated 2/24/12

This afternoon at Port St. Lucie, Terry Collins spoke with reporters and the topic of Ruben Tejada not being in camp came up once again.  According to MetsBlog’s Michael Baron, Collins said he intends to speak with the shortstop about his early absence from camp when he arrives.

There’s a process here when ‘you’re the guy. Tejada is a big part of the puzzle. Maybe it’s eyewash at times, but it shows people he wants to be ready [by arriving early].”

Collins had told reporters earlier in the week that he was “a little surprised” that Tejada was not yet in camp:

As we talked about last year a lot of times, a lot of it is just selfishness on my part. I take great pride in the game itself and respecting the game itself. I wish everybody had the same respect for it to want to get started as early as possible. I know Ruben will come in in great shape. I know he’ll be ready to go, I just wish he was here.”

It seems as if Collins was not the only one wondering where the young shortstop is:

Tejada, Cedeno, and Quintanilla (all ss) only players not in camp yet for the Mets. And yes, players have said stuff about Tejada’s absence.

— Kevin Burkhardt (@KBurkhardtSNY) February 24, 2012

If your wondering, the official date of arrival for position players is Saturday, February 25th. The teams first official practice is not scheduled until Monday, February 27th. So, technically, Tejada is not late. While I love the passion that Collins is showing in his comments and as much as I would love for Tejada to be in camp early — like the rest of his infield counterparts (Ike Davis, David Wright, Daniel Murphy) — I just can’t get mad at a guy for not showing up to work a week early. And so, I am not going to judge him. Just yet. However, the following news on Tejada did ruffle my feathers just a bit. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Collins asked the 22-year-old shortstop to work with the clubs strength coach in November and return to the complex in mid-January to get an early start with his new double play partner, Daniel Murphy. Tejada followed through on neither of his managers requests:

Photo taken by Michael Baron

Not only did Tejada not follow through with the voluntary suggestions, he also largely was unreachable by team personnel during the offseason.

“I know when he walks through the door he’s going to be in good shape,” Collins said. “He’s just too good a kid. But I’m going to explain to him that there’s a process here when you’re the guy. When you have people — the David Wrights and all of those other guys that are here early, Jason Bay and, shoot Johan Santana has been down here a month, he’s been down here since right after the first of the year — maybe it’s only eyewash at times, but it shows people you really want to be ready. That’s going to be brought up.

“But I’m not going to embarrass him,” the manager continued. “I don’t do that. This kid is a big part of this puzzle, and I’ve got to get him ready. That basically is going to be the message: Hey, look, we need to get a head start here. We need to get out of the gate first. You’ve got a new second baseman you need to work with, and it would have been nice for you to get down here and get started. And that’s all it’s going to be.”

While I am not mad at Ruben for not showing early — that’s why they make deadline dates — I was a little upset to hear of his unwillingness to comply with his managers off-season requests. But, I will say this. I love Terry’s comments on the situation. I love that he realizes he has to send the message to Ruben in a way to make him understand the importance of arriving early and the message it shows to other players. Let’s just hope Ruben makes it to camp tomorrow, on time, because I’m sure there is a group of die-hards that are already upset with the 22-year-old and a late arrival could turn those — like me — who are reserving judgement against him as well; let’s not forget the taunting task of replacing fan favorite Jose Reyes.
 

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