PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Rather than complain about the Mets' public pursuit of a shortstop upgrade this winter, Ruben Tejada worked to better himself.
A year after reporting to camp out of shape, drawing the ire of Mets officials, Tejada came to Florida this spring with a leaner, more toned body. That was the result of offseason work that he put in at a team-sponsored fitness camp outside Ann Arbor, Mich.
Alongside a group of teammates including outfielder/first baseman Lucas Duda and infielder Wilmer Flores, Tejada worked on his agility and overall fitness. The shortstop felt so good about his work that as soon as he arrived in camp, he began bragging to manager Terry Collins about how much faster he is.
"He's a great kid," Collins said. "He's coming into this camp with a different attitude and a different makeup, that there's something to prove. This kid's never seen weather like (Michigan in January) before. And to deal with it not only one month, but to go back there and do it again, when he could be outside in Panama running and fielding ground balls, and he's in Ann Arbor, Mich., where there's 100 inches of snow, that tells you something."
That does not mean the Mets will drop their pursuit of free agent Stephen Drew altogether. As long as the former Red Sox shortstop remains unsigned, he is an option for the Mets.
However, general manager Sandy Alderson, who was open in his pursuit of a shortstop upgrade this winter, indicated on multiple occasions that Drew's price would need to drop a great deal for the Mets to consider upgrading.
Assuming that does not happen, the shortstop job will go back to Tejada, who hit .202 in 57 games last season, battling a right quad strain early in the season and a broken leg late.
"I know I have to work hard every day and do everything the right way every day," Tejada said. "I feel really good, and I want to play."
--RHP Matt Harvey took the next step in his rehab Feb. 19, when doctors cleared him to begin throwing off flat ground for the first time. The Mets expect Harvey, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2013, to return to action by Opening Day 2015.
--RHP Noah Syndergaard drew rave reviews early in camp. Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon were among a large group watching Syndergaard's first official bullpen session this spring, which admittedly made the rookie nervous. Manager Terry Collins later estimated that Syndergaard was throwing 97 mph with "a hook from hell," referring to the curveball that helped center the 21-year-old on the radar of scouts across the country.
--SS Ruben Tejada believes he is faster and in better shape after spending much of his winter at a fitness camp in Michigan. Tejada said he did not dwell on the Mets' pursuit of free agent SS Stephen Drew, knowing he could only control his own readiness.
--OF Chris Young reported to camp nearly a week ahead of schedule, saying he always wanted to play on the East Coast. Young boasted that with him, Curtis Granderson, Eric Young and Juan Lagares all in the fold, the Mets have the potential to field one of the best defensive outfields in baseball.
--RHP Jeremy Hefner began throwing for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last August. Hefner, who is two months ahead of RHP Matt Harvey in his rehab, hopes to contribute to the Mets by late August or September.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "New York is awesome. I can go shopping every morning." -- RHP Jose Valverde, on why he chose to come to the Mets.