02/17/09 11:43 AM EST
Tejada addresses teammates in camp
Shortstop apologizes for distraction his legal troubles have caused
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
The players, according to general manager Ed Wade, "saluted him appropriately" with a short round of applause.
"He was a stand-up guy for us all last season, and he continues to be," Wade said.
Soon after, Tejada met with reporters outside of the clubhouse at Osceola County Stadium, but those hoping for pointed, insightful comments in the wake of the shortstop's recent guilty plea for lying to congressional staffers walked away disappointed.
Tejada, who did not answer questions during a press gathering at Minute Maid Park last week following his court date in Washington, D.C., wasn't terribly willing to delve into the topic this time, either. He simply expressed appreciation toward his teammates for their support and emphasized that he wants to concentrate solely on baseball.
But with a March 26 sentencing date looming, Tejada's plight isn't over yet.
"Right now, I don't want to think about that," he said. "Right now, I'm thinking about baseball.
"[To] my teammates, I apologized. It's part of this country, it's part of my life. I apologized to my family, I apologized to everybody around me, everybody in baseball. I think my teammates are moving forward. Today, I stood up and apologized."
Tejada isn't the only one who would like for the off-the-field issues to go away.
"The whole deal is now baseball," Wade said. "He was upfront and candid last week in Houston and made his apologies and we commented on it at that point in time. He knew he'd get some more questions the first day in camp, but it's all about baseball now. I'm glad to have him on the field."
The entire squad -- minus outfielder Yordany Ramirez, who ran into delays while traveling to Miami -- and outfielder Carlos Lee, who did not report and does not have to until the mandatory date on Sunday -- was dressed and ready to practice by 9:30 a.m. ET Tuesday. Tejada, amid handshakes and backslaps by teammates and coaches, fell into place with ease as he participated in all of the routine warm-up drills.
Tejada's legal problems date back to Dec. 13, 2007, the day the Mitchell Report was released. The shortstop's name was listed several times in the report, which stated Tejada had conversations with teammate Adam Piatt regarding performance-enhancing drugs.
Tejada's eventual guilty plea was for lying about that conversation with Piatt, not for his own possible use of PEDs. The shortstop is expected to receive probation when he is sentenced in March.
Asked Tuesday if he ever used steroids or human growth hormone, Tejada said, "I don't have to talk about that."
Tejada concluded by responding to a question about what he would tell kids who have admired him throughout his career, especially in the Dominican Republic, where he is considered to be a national hero.
"I worked hard all my life," he said. "Everything I have is because I worked hard. They have to know how much I respect the game. I can't think about anything else right now. My family really believes me, my family really supports me. I apologized with what just happened and I hope that's it."
Lance Berkman hopes so, too.
"He's a stand-up guy and like he told us, he made a mistake, he's sorry and he's ready to move on," Berkman said. "We really couldn't care less. We love Miggy and we're glad he's here and we just want to get on down the road."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.