If we ever needed an example of why most players play through injuries rather than risk a disabled list trip to make sure they’re at 100%, we need to look no further than Ruben Tejada.
Following the injury to Jhonny Peralta, the Cardinals signed Ruben Tejada after he was cut by the Mets. The Cardinals optioned Aledmys Diaz to the minors after signing Tejada and Tejada was widely viewed as the team’s starting shortstop. When Tejada got hurt near the end of spring training, it was a good thing for him that Jeremy Hazelbaker got the roster spot instead.
The problem came in the season opener when Tommy Pham got hurt. That meant Diaz, who was in Memphis to start the season, got the call. And since he arrived, he’s done nothing but mashed baseballs to the tune of a .406/.441/.813 slash line. Eight of his 13 hits have been for extra bases.
Now that Tejada is healthy and back on the roster, Diaz has established himself in just a couple weeks of work as the “hot hand.” Over the last week he has started six of the team’s seven games. As long as he keeps hitting, he will likely keep getting the bulk of the playing time.
But don’t forget that Tejada hit .273 this spring and hit .333 on his short rehab stint. So he’s hitting the bat well. He also has over 2000 at bats that shows he is a league average shortstop at the plate while admittedly the jury is still out on his defense. But it is for Diaz too. And Diaz doesn’t even have 100 at bats above Double-A.
How will Mike Matheny divide playing time? Only time will tell. Diaz is starting tonight, but who starts tomorrow? I’d bet on Tejada. And then it’s up to him to prove he deserves to play.