Infield-third base coach Juan Samuel was pretty direct, as always, when I asked him how Miguel Tejada's transition from shortstop to third was going.
"We have a lot to work on," he said.
That's been fairly apparent as Tejada tallied his fifth error on the season on a botched Brett Gardner grounder in the third inning of Tuesday's game against the Yankees.
Samuel said Tejada needs to learn to snag some of those hot shots on the corner with just one hand (his glove). Right now Tejada seems to be getting caught up in his footing at times. That's only natural as a shortstop uses his feet more to get in front of a ball and field it with both hands. According to Samuel, he just needs to get used to reaching over and snagging those shots.
One of the things Samuel is happy with is Tejada's attention to scouting reports and his ability to always be aware of who might bunt.
Interestingly, Tejada is playing in a lot. Samuel said when he first heard the O's were getting Tejada and transitioning him to third, he wanted to have Tejada play deeper. The logic, of course, is that playing deeper would give him more time to react, but Tejada was the one who decided to play in more. Tejada told me he has to cover less ground that way, and can cut the balls off on an angle. Samuel told me that's okay with him. He just wants Tejada to be comfortable out there.
You have to wonder at what point the Orioles will try to move him deeper. Clearly if he keeps racking up errors, they'll have to try something different.
Let's be real though, Tejada was not brought in to be a defensive third baseman. He was brought in to hit, and though he doesn't have the numbers to show it, hitting coach Terry Crowley told me that out of the struggling O's hitters, he feels Tejada is the closest to breaking out.
"He hit five bullets to defenders in Boston, and he had one or two last night," Crowley said.
I wonder: If Tejada starts hitting, will fans be more forgiving of his defensive lapses in the field?
Regardless of offensive production, Samuel told me Tejada still is expected to make the routine plays.
"We're not expecting him to rob guys of base hits, but he needs to make those routine plays," Samuel said.
Just for a reference, here's a look at where other converted shortstops stood sixteen games into their transition.
1997 - Cal Ripken - 3 errors
2004 - Alex Rodriquez - 2 errors
2010 - Miguel Tejada - 5 errors