JUPITER, Fla. – Ruben Tejada will start at shortstop in today’s spring training game against the Miami Marlins, one day after the St. Louis Cardinals signed him to a one-year, $1.5 million contract to fill in for the injured Jhonny Peralta.
Manager Mike Matheny said he watched Tejada’s work outs and said he “can play the game. Where he fits in the line up is not a priority right now,” he said. Matheny said the staff does not have many conversations about where players might bat, saying that if a player can contribute, they will find a spot in the order.
Tejada figures to be the everyday shortstop while Peralta recovers from surgery to repair a torn ligament. He is expected to be out until about the All-Star break. Tejada is a slick fielding shortstop known more for his glove than his bat.
In other updates, Matheny praised the spring performance of Carlos Peguero, 29, a non-roster invitee to the major league camp. The 6-5, 260 pounder has played with Texas, Boston and Kansas City after starting his career with Seattle. A veteran of 103 major league games, Peguero has hit the ball well this spring, and an OPS of 1.357. “He mishits a ball and he gets an opposite field homer. He’s a dangerous hitter,” Matheny said. “He is doing everything he needs to do right now. He’s a quiet guy, no nonsense.”
Asked if he thought Peguero could stick with the club when four other teams released him, the skipper said, “You know sometimes you get with a new organization, a new philosophy and they can look at what others have missed. You find that key.” Matheny said it has worked both ways as the Cardinals have shipped out players who have thrived with other clubs.
Matheny also praised catcher-in-waiting Carson Kelly, saying his improvement over last year has been nothing short of remarkable. “He’s better everywhere. He should be proud of how he’s handled everything. We gave him a lot.” Matheny said not only is the staff impressed with the 21-year-old’s development, but also “a number of pitchers” approached the staff and complimented Kelly’s development. That is the ultimate compliment for a catcher, Matheny said.
Jeremy Hefner, who underwent two Tommy John surgeries, will start the season in Triple A as he continues his recovery. “He’s a solid guy and he just wanted to absorb it all. He’s thrived in this environment.” The way the ball comes out of his hand, his range of motion and velocity is getting better, Matheny said, making him a viable big league option as he continues to get stronger.