PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins believes his public criticism of Ruben Tejada last February may have spooked a few extra players into reporting early for Spring Training in 2013. He's happy if it did.
The Mets manager expressed plenty of disappointment last year when Tejada reported on time -- not early -- to camp. So perhaps it was no surprise the shortstop was among a sizeable contingent of position players who reported a full week -- or in some cases, multiple weeks -- early this spring.
"Make no mistake about it: the minute you think players don't know what's going on, you've made a huge mistake," Collins said. "These guys are very aware and very on top of all the situations. They know there's jobs here."
Fifty-four of the 58 players expected in camp are already present. Two of the absentees, Marlon Byrd and Jordany Valdespin, are taking a few days off after their winter ball teams advanced to the Caribbean Series. Infielder Wilfredo Tovar is also absent, as is right-hander Jenrry Mejia, who is working out in the Dominican Republic due to visa issues.
The trend all started with Tejada, who arrived even earlier than he originally intended in an effort to avoid last weekend's Winter Storm Nemo. Tejada spent the final two weeks of his offseason working out on Long Island with former teammate Jose Reyes.
Then again, David Wright typically makes it a point to arrive in Port St. Lucie each year right around the Super Bowl, another example of Wright leading by example.
"One of the things we've talked about, we've really stressed, is the importance of starting the season right," Collins said. "And the best way to do it is to have guys in game shape -- midseason form as a lot of people say -- starting April 1. And they do that by being here early."