NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins said Friday that he plans to give shortstop Ruben Tejada a handful of off-days throughout the final month of the season, the first of which came Friday against Atlanta.
Collins said his main concern is fatigue -- since coming off the disabled list on June 24, Tejada has missed just one game in its entirety (Sunday against Miami). And signs of it may be showing. Tejada is hitting just .175 (7-for-40) with 10 strikeouts in his past 11 games, including a four-strikeout game on Wednesday against St. Louis.
"He's played enough that he's in shape, but I think he hasn't been in a situation where he's been an everyday guy for the entire season going into that last month," Collins said. "The month of September is probably the biggest challenge for all young players because they've never played that six months where you're playing every day.
"It's one thing to get called up and play once a week or twice a week, it's another thing to still grind it out over the six months."
Even with scheduled off-days, Tejada will still set a new high for Major League games played in a single season -- he appeared in 96 games in 2011 and is just five shy of that mark this season.
Collins said the plan moving forward will be to schedule Tejada's off-days in tandem with days the team does not play, such as to give him multiple days of rest at a time. New York's two remaining off-days are scheduled for Sept. 13 and 20.
As for building up his endurance for the future, Tejada plans to stay in New York after the season to strengthen his right quadriceps, which was the cause of his six-week DL stint earlier this season. Collins admitted that the best approach toward doing so is to play every day, but said at this point in the season, ensuring Tejada will be ready for 2013 takes precedence.
"The only way to do it is to play him," Collins said, "but we've got to make sure that the fatigue doesn't cause an injury."