KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bring up the name Miguel Tejada around the Royals’ clubhouse and you get nothing but smiles.
“Oh, man, he brings some energy to the game and to the team,” first baseman Eric Hosmer beams. “He’s just always on the go, always doing whatever he can to help us. He’s really a great example.”
Third baseman Mike Moustakas agrees, saying, “You can learn so much just by watching him.”
And even right-hander Luke Hochevar, who views most games entirely from the bullpen, notices the Tejada effect.
“You see him run out every ball so hard,” Hochevar says, “and it makes everyone want to just give that little bit extra. He never lets up. I mean, if a young guy on our team doesn’t hustle to first base, it’s not going to look too good when (Tejada) is busting it down the line.”
And it’s not just about hustle, either. Tejada is delivering in the production department, too. He is 12 for his last 29 with five RBIs.
“He’s our hottest hitter,” Manager Ned Yost says.
Tejada has appeared in nine straight games and has started eight of them, taking over for Chris Getz at second base when Getz went on the disabled list last week.
There’s no reason to believe that Tejada will give the job back, even when Getz is healthy.
“I feel good, very healthy and ready to contribute,” Tejada said. “I don’t see any reason why I can’t play (every day) the rest of the season.”
There’s little doubt Tejada wants to prove he can still play regularly, especially for an otherwise young team in the midst of a playoff chase.
“Oh, man, this is fun,” he said. “There is nothing like it. It’s why you play baseball. I just want to thank Kansas City for giving me the opportunity.
“And I hope I can keep helping us win. That’s all that matters now. Just go out there and win.”
Tejada, though, knows he has somewhat of a dual role on the team — as a player and a leader. Having been on playoff teams before, Tejada is viewed almost as a tutor on how to approach these final two months.
“That guy has been through everything,” Hochevar says. “He’s been in the playoffs, he’s been MVP of the league. He’s been there.”
Tejada’s advice to the younger guys?
“Just be patient,” Tejada says. “I know you want to go out there and win every game in the first inning. But sometimes you get behind early and just trust that you will come back. We can do that.
“Like that other night in New York when we were down two going into the eighth. I just said, ‘Guys, it’ll come. Just do your job.’ And we were able to tie it up in the ninth. That’s what good teams do. That’s what we have to keep doing.”
Tejada also preaches to enjoy the ride.
“This is it, this is why we play and you have to enjoy it,” he says. “And you will carry it with you the rest of your career. When we were in Oakland and we started winning and getting to the playoffs, we were all pretty young, just like these guys are. And it made us the players we are.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org