Collins checks on Reyes; Tejada future at short?

Collins checks on Reyes; Tejada future at short?

Collins checks on Reyes; Tejada future at short?
NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins said shortstop Jose Reyes told him he was feeling fine Tuesday afternoon after playing his first game with the Mets since Aug. 7 on Monday. Reyes missed 18 games with his second strained left hamstring of the season.

Collins said he checked in with Reyes before Tuesday's game and that he will continue to check in with his shortstop periodically as the season goes on as part of his plan to keep Reyes' legs healthy.

"We get here early enough that if I need to switch a lineup because he needs a day, I can certainly take it off before making a big deal about it," Collins said. "As he always says, 'I'm ready for today, tomorrow, next day, next day, next day, next day.' And I'm expecting that response from him.

"This is just something that's in his best interest also -- besides the club's -- to make sure when he's on the field, he's healthy."

Whether Collins is in charge of the free-agent-to-be's playing schedule remains to be seen. If Reyes leaves New York, Collins has said he believes 21-year-old middle infielder Ruben Tejada is capable of playing shortstop every day.

Tejada played in 78 games last season and has batted .282 with a .367 on-base percentage and a .338 slugging percentage in 71 games this season. Though Tejada doesn't have as flashy a game as the man he could be replacing, Collins said he thinks he does have a degree of athleticism that can go undetected.

"Because he doesn't perhaps possess the flair that Jose possesses doesn't mean he's not athletic. He's not as fast, but yet he's an average runner," Collins said. "He's a good baserunner. His mental makeup is so far beyond his years. I think that's what makes him stand out. You watch him play enough on a daily basis, and you see the athleticism."

Though Collins likes Tejada's baserunning, he said he'd like to see him steal more bases in the future. In 149 Major League games, Tejada has stolen just five bases and been caught stealing twice. But in 2007, Tejada stole 18 bases in the Minors, and in 2009, he stole 19.

"He's athletic enough to steal bases," Collins said. "We've got to get him to learn how to steal bases. Jeff Bagwell stole 31 bases for me in '95. Thirty-one from first base. When you go into towns and they read the notes where somebody's got 26 stolen bases, they know they're running and yet you can still steal bases if you pay attention. So that's going to be a big factor moving forward."