Excited Tejada set to play many roles
Six-time All-Star back to natural position of shortstop
SAN DIEGO -- Three weeks into a season that would see them lose 99 games, the Padres stopped by Minute Maid Park in Houston in April of 2008 for a two-game series against the Astros.
What they witnessed was a one-man wrecking crew, as Miguel Tejada had eight hits -- two home runs -- and knocked in five as the Astros won a short set that, apparently, couldn't end fast enough for the Padres.
"I've seen this a lot from the other dugout," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's a guy who you never felt comfortable with him in the box. You felt that he was going to get on base somehow.
"There are not too many guys like that."
The Padres understand that when they traded for the 36-year-old Tejada on Thursday that they were not getting the same player who was the American League MVP in 2002, one that drove in over 100 runs six times.
What the Padres wanted to accomplish with their trade -- they sent Minor League pitcher Wynn Pelzer to the Orioles to land Tejada, the six-time All-Star -- was a player who can give them more than they were getting at shortstop with Everth Cabrera, someone who also could play third base and help their offense.
In other words, the Padres aren't looking for an All-Star, but they certainly would not mind at all if Tejada played like one over the last 62 games of the regular season and, as they're hoping, the playoffs.
"He's going to bring a lot to the team as far as being able to play a number of different positions in the infield," said Padres third baseman Chase Headley, one of the players who figures to lose some playing time to Tejada.
"He's been down this road before, and I think having an extra capable body is going to help everybody, whether it's me or at shortstop or at second base or outfield."
The Padres wasted little time in getting Tejada into the lineup. He was penciled in to play shortstop and bat fourth on Friday as the Padres opened a three-game series at PETCO Park against the Marlins.
It's been quite a whirlwind of events for Tejada, who awoke on Thursday in Kansas City as a member of the Orioles. By the afternoon, he was scratched from the lineup and was told he was being traded to the National League.
"Yesterday there was a lot of joking inside the clubhouse, guys telling me, 'Miggy, it's unbelievable you wake up and in you're in first place,' " Tejada said. "Yesterday was one of the biggest days in my life."
Black said again on Friday that he intends on using Tejada at shortstop and at third base, especially against left-handed pitchers. Headley, a switch-hitter who has struggled with left-handed pitching, will start against right-handed pitchers.
Cabrera, who is hitting .199 with three of his six errors in the past eight games, will head to the bench, where he'll be used as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner.
Tejada, who hadn't played shortstop this season with the Orioles, said he was excited to get back to his natural position.
"It's important," he said. "I've worked hard with my body, just in case someone needs me to play third or short. I'm happy to go back to short, it's my natural position. I'm here to help and here to do whatever the manager wants me to do."
The Padres were encouraged by the .346 average this season in 78 at-bats in Interleague Play as well as his track record and knowledge of the NL from having played the 2008-09 seasons as a shortstop for the Astros.
"We're excited to have him," Black said. "He's a player who is going to make us better."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.