NEW YORK -- Spring Training statistics may not matter, but they do create impressions. It was impossible to ignore, for example, that shortstop Ruben Tejada finished his Grapefruit League season batting .096 with three extra-base hits. After homering against Stephen Strasburg in his first spring at-bat, Tejada went 4-for-51 with two singles and two doubles.
Once a leadoff candidate for the Mets, Tejada instead slipped to eighth in the Opening Day lineup. But manager Terry Collins said before the opener that he was willing to forget all that, provided Tejada begins hitting now.
As if on cue, the shortstop mashed an RBI double in his first at-bat of the season, which Collins called the most important knock in the Mets' 11-2 win over the Padres.
"That was a huge hit," Collins said. "He's had a tough spring. To have him be the first guy that gets a big hit, I thought was good."
Saying he could "not explain what happened in Spring Training," Collins guessed that Tejada simply did not worry himself with results, knowing he was already entrenched as the starting shortstop. Instead, Collins said that Tejada worked on specific skills, such as hitting the ball the opposite way and keeping his batted balls on the ground.
"I trust my players," Collins said. "Ruben and I had a number of discussions in the last two weeks, and he reassured me he will be ready, and he will be the same player that we've seen in the past during the season."