Position players and pitchers exist as different species occupying the same terrain in baseball’s universe. Their routines and schedules only occasionally intersect, particularly in spring training.
Here in Mets camp, though, shortstop Ruben Tejada and starting pitcher Johan Santana cross those lines and share a special bond. That’s partly because they share an agent, Peter Greenberg. Yet it’s also because Tejada, 23, still could benefit from some veteran guidance, and he is the oldest Latino position player on the Mets.
“Sometimes, because you’re learning English like me, sometimes it’s tough with a different language,” Tejada, a Panama native, said yesterday at Tradition Field. “You feel a little more confident with Latin guys.”
“It’s more comfortable, no question about it,” said Santana, a Venezuelan. “When you’re talking about working here, I’ll tell [Tejada] how I like to do my things. At the same time, he’s got David Wright. We’ve got a great group here.”
It’s hard not to notice how dramatically this group’s composition has changed over the last few years, especially given the hype of Omar Minaya’s “Los Mets” run from his hiring in September 2004 to his dismissal in October 2010. The 2006 Mets’ postseason roster featured 12 players born in Spanish-speaking countries, with three more (Orlando Hernandez, Pedro Martinez and Duaner Sanchez) shelved because of injuries.
When you project the current 25-man Mets roster and conduct the same survey, you come up with reliever Jeurys Familia (Dominican Republic), Santana, Tejada and outfielder Jordany Valdespin (DR), with reliever Frank Francisco (DR) a probable disabled list occupant.
The Mets still conduct the same outreach programs to their Latino fan base, including the annual game in which they wear a “Los Mets” jersey. Their marketing ambitions remain the same. Only their roster has shifted.
Mets Tejada, Santana linked by Latino heritage
New York Post | Feb 20