04/24/07 8:45 PM ET
Tejada reaches a milestone on Tuesday
Veteran shortstop takes the field for his 1,100th straight game
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
"The first day that I started it, I didn't believe I could play in so many games," said Tejada, a former Most Valuable Player and a four-time All-Star to boot. "But like I've said, I like to play every day, and every day I thank God for not being in pain and not being hurt. I'm just happy to see my career going one day at a time."
Tejada has played in every game since June of the 2000 season, and he's rarely had a close call that endangered his everyday status. He's also maintained his high level of play, a feat that many of his peers make sure to mention. The 30-year-old plays every day for an old-fashioned reason -- he gives his team its best chance to win.
"It's pretty amazing," said second baseman Brian Roberts. "You've got to somehow stay healthy. You can't get hurt and you can't get sick. You've got to play well. You've got to do all those things. It's pretty impressive."
"It's unbelievable, because it takes luck from nagging injuries and toughness. The guy's as tough as they come and he's a tremendous teammate and a tremendous player," added designated hitter Kevin Millar. "He deserves all the accolades. He plays for us every day and plays hard for us every day. He plays a tough position.
"He brings a lot of energy to this team and that's why it's an honor to be his teammate."
Tejada could pass Hall-of-Famer Joe Sewell's streak of 1,103 games on Saturday, and health permitting, he would pass Billy Williams (1,117) -- another inducted member at Cooperstown -- on May 13.
He should also pass 10-time All-Star Steve Garvey (1,207) later in the year, which would leave just Everett Scott (1,307), Lou Gehrig (2,130) and record-holder Cal Ripken Jr. (2,632) in his way. Amazingly, the next longest active streak -- that of Mark Teixeira (466) in Texas -- is more than 600 games behind Tejada
Barring an injury, Scott would fall next season, but Gehrig and Ripken are still a long way away. Tejada would actually have to play until the 2016 season to set the record, but he said he doesn't do it for that purpose.
"I'm not doing it because I want to catch Cal," he said Tuesday. "I'm just doing it because I'm healthy, I want to play and I think I can play every day. One day, it's going to stop, but God's going to decide it. I'm not going to decide it, because if I'm never hurt, I'm going to be in the lineup every day if the manager decides to put me in there."
Tejada may not follow the stats, but he does revere the players that came before him. He treasures his place in baseball history and said it means a lot to him to be mentioned in the company of immortals.
"For me, that's really amazing. I'm really happy with myself and I'm really happy to be in that situation," he said of passing Sewell and Williams. "I know it's not easy, and there are a lot of sick days and a lot of headaches, like today. A lot of colds, but they give me the opportunity to be strong and be in the field. I'm happy to be there."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.