"This guy has hit the ball on the barrel his last six at-bats," manager Terry Collins said, explaining why he started Tejada at shortstop for a third straight game on Tuesday. "If he didn't walk, he hit it square, hit it hard. He's played very, very well defensively. I don't necessarily know the reasons why. The perception would be he got a wake-up call, and that sometimes makes a big difference."
For the past two-plus seasons, Tejada has played without a real challenger at shortstop. He responded with some of the worst offensive numbers of any player in the big leagues.
Now, Flores' mere presence is a threat, and Tejada has responded with strong play on both sides of the ball. He hit a walk-off single in Sunday's win over the Phillies, going 3-for-8 with two walks on Sunday and Monday. Collins suspects that may not be a coincidence.
"He's put together back-to-back very good games, and I said we're going to run him out there again tonight," Collins said. "The only thing you can assume -- and you could be wrong -- is that Wilmer came in and all of a sudden he lost his job, and he said, 'I've got to win it back.' Maybe he just got refocused."
Asked if Tejada can reclaim his job for good with a continued strong run, Collins added: "No question about it."