DENVER -- Ruben Tejada won the Mets' starting job at shortstop in 2012, after Jose Reyes departed for Miami as a free agent in the offseason. He was the starting shortstop again on Opening Day in 2013 -- in fact, the only shortstop on the Mets' roster, until he went on the disabled list on May 30 with a right quad strain.
But according to manager Terry Collins, when Tejada completes his upcoming rehab assignment, he'll have to battle Omar Quintanilla, who has put a stranglehold on the position since coming up to take Tejada's spot on the roster.
"Based on what we've seen right now, Ruben's got to go earn it back," Collins said of the starting job at shortstop. "He's got to go play, get his game together, get himself in top shape. We know he can. But there's no reason why we're going to take this kid out of the lineup, unless it's fatigue. He's played very, very well offensively and defensively."
Tejada is scheduled to start rehab games this weekend, most likely in the Gulf Coast League. He was hitting .209 (39-for-187) with 10 RBIs in 50 games when he went on the DL.
"Once he's worked himself up to seven or eight innings, he'll probably be on his way to either Double-A or Triple-A and start playing every day," Collins said. "When that time comes, when he comes back, we'll have a decision to make. But right now it's too far down the road. I'm not going to take Q out of the lineup at this particular time."
Quintanilla is hitting .253 (22-for-87) with two homers and nine RBIs in 23 games, and has come on strong of late, hitting .300 (9-for-30) with five RBIs over his last nine games entering Thursday.
Quintanilla is with his fourth team in five years, including a two-year stretch from 2010-11 when he played a total of 11 big league games. He debuted with the Rockies in 2005, went to Texas in '11 and started '12 with the Mets, but was sent to Baltimore in July. He returned to the Mets as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training in 2013.
"He thought he had a chance to make the club out of Spring Training as a backup, but due to some things, he didn't," Collins said. "He got his chance, and when you look at yesterday's game, he made three plays that might have saved the game for us. To tell a guy who's come up and hit like he's hit and played defense like he's played that all of a sudden he doesn't have a job -- he's earned a right to be out there right now."
Wright out of Mets lineup for second time in '13
DENVER -- At least one element was missing from Thursday's makeup game in Colorado, and that was Mets third baseman David Wright, who missed just his second start of the season.
It's tough to keep Wright out of the lineup any day, and especially tough at Coors Field, where he has his highest average in any park with more than 15 at bats. Wright has hit at a .392 (47-for-120) clip in Colorado, with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs in 32 games.
"In a perfect world, I like to play at home and against our division rivals," Wright said. "So that leaves very few choices as to when [to rest]. We don't ever determine an off-day by where or what you do at a ballpark, at least I don't. And travel, obviously, getting in late last night, getting back to New York late tonight, [manager Terry Collins] and I thought today made sense."
In his nine previous big league seasons, Wright has played between 154 and 160 games in every season except his first in 2004, when he came up for 69 games after splitting time at Double-A and Triple-A, and the 2011 season, when injuries limited him to 102 games. He's never had illusions of Cal Ripken-esque strings of 162-game campaigns, but he's grown increasingly sensible about the need to pace himself over a long season.
"It would be nice, but on the other hand, I'd rather try to play 155, 156 and have a little more quality than just go out there for the sake of saying that you've played 162," Wright said. "Going into the season, you're gung ho, and the work you do in the offseason, you tell yourself, 'Let's try and play them all this year.' And then once you get a couple months into the season, you start re-evaluating that.
"You want to play. Everybody in here is built to want to play. Sometimes it's good when [Collins] comes up and says, 'Hey, I want to give you a day.' Sometimes it's better to go ahead and take it, because it's kind of good for you in the long run to get a few of these."
Collins' only reservation about resting his most productive hitter every 75 games or so was giving opposing teams or fans the impression that the Mets are holding back with what they're putting on the field.
"I don't want to insult anybody, including the people who come to see us," Collins said. "A lot of them are coming to see David Wright, because he's the name and face of the team. When you pay, you hope to see the best people in the game. We've got David Wright available. If we need him late, he'll be there."
Young returns to Coors Field for first time with Mets
DENVER -- Even if Eric Young Jr. was sporting a new haircut since joining his new team nine days ago, it was easy enough to find his locker in the visiting clubhouse at Coors Field. It was the one with the Rockies duffle bag in front of it.
Young is fully equipped with Mets gear since the June 18 trade from the Rockies, the only club he had ever known, but his old club saved some shipping and brought his extra stuff to his new clubhouse when Young and the Mets pulled into the Mile High City for a one-day stop to make up a snowed-out game from April 17.
Young left the Rockies hitting .242 (40-for-165) in 57 games as the team's fourth outfielder. In seven games with the Mets, he's hitting .414 (12-for-29) with six RBIs, and had a five-game hitting streak entering Thursday.
"Just being out there, being able to get the kinks out," Young said to explain why he's been on fire as the Mets' new leadoff man. "The first couple days in Atlanta I was nervous, and then continuing to see my name in the lineup, I just go out there and play."
For Young, who was born in New Brunswick, N.J., and was drafted by the Rockies in the 30th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, the move to a starting role with the Mets was one of the best outcomes he could have envisioned when the Rockies designated him for assignment.
"The first couple days I was just kind of uncertain," Young said of the period before the trade was completed. "A lot of people here in Colorado were sad to see me go, so in turn it was making my wife and me sad, but the last couple days was just more anticipation and anxious to find out where you're going. Obviously when I heard the news, it was exciting to get going again.
"Anytime you go a place where you're wanted and needed, it's big. It's awesome to have an opportunity here with the Mets, as well as it's close to home."
Young has been on the road since joining the Mets, so the detour to Colorado before a homestand in New York is the closest he's been to home since leaving the Rockies. When he suits up in Queens on Friday to open a series with the Nationals, it will be his first game at Citi Field, despite playing in his fifth big league season.
"Last year was my first time going to New York, and I went on the DL stint right there at Citi Field," Young said. "So I've never actually played a game at Citi Field, and it'll be my first time tomorrow. It's going to be a lot of firsts for me tomorrow."
It will also be the first time his family and friends have been able to see him play without having to travel.
Young has taken the move in stride, bearing no hard feelings toward the Rockies and quickly adapting to the needs of his new team, even moving into his old position at second base after a double switch.
"We're glad to have him," manager Terry Collins said of his new left fielder. "I'm anxious to see how he handles Citi Field, I really am. It might be a park made perfect for him. He's at the top of the lineup, and he's made a huge contribution so far. His personality fits in perfect. First-class guy and he loves to play. Maybe this is his chance to show us what he can do."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.