Tejada enjoying transition to third base

Tejada enjoying transition to third base

SARASOTA, Fla. -- With zero fielding opportunities in Monday's intrasquad game, Miguel Tejada joked that if he didn't get any ground balls at third base on Wednesday, he was going to move over and steal some of shortstop Cesar Izturis' work.

Luckily, that didn't happen. Two pitches into Wednesday's Grapefruit League opener, Tejada snagged a ball to his left and threw out Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett for the game's first out.

"I told [Jeremy Guthrie], I said 'Hey, this inning, I want the ball and then I can get everything out of the way,'" Tejada said. "I was excited to make that play. I feel kind of like, 'Oh, I can play here.'"

But before the O's faithful could start any Miggy chants, Tejada misplayed Bartlett's third-inning grounder, which scooted by him and onto the left-field grass.

"The ball just went under my glove," Tejada said of the error. "[Infield coach Juan Samuel] told me I did everything perfectly. The ball just didn't give me a nice bounce.

"I felt like everything I've been working on has made me comfortable [for Wednesday's game]. And I'm going to continue to keep working and get better."

The veteran shortstop -- reacquired as a free agent in the offseason -- has been reporting to Baltimore's workouts 30 minutes early to work with Samuel on various aspects of third base. There have been sessions where Tejada stands on the outfield grass and fields high velocity balls, and the duo has just begun working on having Tejada come in for the ball and fielding bunts.

"I don't want to overload him right now," Samuel said. "[I'm] just giving him one thing at a time to work on."

So far, so good, as Tejada's early impressions at the hot corner have left Samuel with little doubt that the veteran will be able to handle the switch.

"For me, if we just make the routine plays, we are doing good," Samuel said. "We know we are not trying to get a Brooks Robinson here -- you don't need to [make great diving plays]. Those are extras. We just want him to make the routine plays."

"One thing that I'm doing right now is having fun. I know I'm playing another position, but I don't have that [cluttering] my mind. I'm having fun when I'm out there on the field and hitting."

-- Miguel Tejada

Although Tejada has had limited in-game chances, he said just standing at third and gauging batters' swings from his new vantage point has been extremely beneficial. If nothing else, it helps reminds Tejada what position he is playing.

"[During Monday's intrasquad game], somebody hit a ball down the left-field line and he said, 'I almost went out there [for the cutoff],'" Samuel said. "He was thinking like a shortstop. He said, 'I caught myself trying to go and then I was like, 'Oh, no, you have to stay.'

"So those are the kind of things we will work on -- the reaction part of it."

Another important part of Tejada's transition will be communicating with Izturis. It helps that they both speak Spanish and English and are often at their lockers laughing and joking around.

"It's definitely going to be a lot easier communicating this way," Izturis said.

"Like I said, [Tejada] can play. He's been around for a while and he's going to be fine."

While third base might still be a transition, Tejada has fully assimilated back to his role as the high-energy guy around the clubhouse.

"That's why his teammates love him; that's who he is," Samuel said. "His work ethic is unbelievable, he's just got a passion for the game and it shows in every aspect."

Added Tejada: "One thing that I'm doing right now is having fun. I know I'm playing another position, but I don't have that [cluttering] my mind. I'm having fun when I'm out there on the field and hitting."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.