"Everybody's allowed to have a bad year. Everybody," manager Terry Collins said. "He might look at this, 2013, as Ruben Tejada's worst year. He may bounce back next year and resume where he was two years ago, and that, to me, was an up-and-coming player that brings a lot to the table."
Which version of Tejada the Mets have for the final stretch of the season remains to be seen. New York recalled the shortstop from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday, and Collins said Tejada is going to be in the lineup on Wednesday.
It's been a tumultuous season so far for Tejada, but he's hoping to keep that in the past.
"The past is the past," Tejada said. "I'm here to keep going forward, and keep doing my job and keep working hard."
Before going on the disabled list on May 30 with a right quad strain, Tejada hit only .209 in 50 games with the Mets. His propensity to hit into so many flyouts and popouts sagged his on-base percentage to .267 -- down from last season's .333 -- and Collins moved him out of the leadoff spot.
When the Mets activated Tejada from the DL on July 7, they optioned him to Triple-A and didn't bring him back to the Major Leagues until Tuesday. In 60 games with Las Vegas, he hit .288 with two home runs and 24 RBIs. He was also 5-for-13 (.385) in four playoff games with the 51s.
Now Tejada's looking to become the Mets' starting shortstop again, a role Omar Quintanilla has held with Tejada in the Minor Leagues. New York, though, is going to want to see Tejada work harder on improving.
During a radio interview with WFAN last week, general manager Sandy Alderson said asking Tejada to do extra work is "like pulling teeth."
"Every GM, they try to push each player to work hard, do his job and try to get better every day," Tejada said. "That's what I think and that's what I know. I'm here to keep working hard and try to keep playing better."
Tejada has the final few weeks of the season to prove he can still be a valuable long-term shortstop for the Mets.
"He took a step backward, which can happen in our sport," Collins said. "So hopefully he rededicates himself to saying, 'I'm going to be the guy. You don't have to look any farther. I'm here.'"