A six-time All-Star and the AL MVP in 2002, Tejada’s prodigious talent has been called into question more than once by doping allegations that have cropped up throughout his career.
The first significant mention of his name came in the Mitchell Report on steroids use in baseball. Then in February 2009, he was charged with lying to Congress about performance-enhancing drugs in the game. Tejada pleaded guilty to the charge and received one year of probation.
Tejada made his big league debut in 1997 with the Athletics, where he spent the best years of his career. He hit .308 with 34 homers and 131 RBIs during his MVP season, and then was even better in 2004 with Baltimore, when he .311 with 34 home runs and a career-best 150 RBIs, which led the AL.
Tejada also spent time with Houston and San Diego before struggling two years ago in San Francisco, and then was unable to latch onto a big league team last season.
The Royals took a chance on him after watching him play in the Dominican Republic’s winter league, signing him to a deal worth $1.1 million if he made the major league roster. He wound up becoming an everyday player, hitting .288 with three homers and 20 RBIs in 53 games.
“He was amazing for this clubhouse,” Shields said. “Every day he came in, he was a great teacher. He helped out a lot of our young guys, not only our Latin guys, but everybody. He really taught a lot these guys how to play the right way as far as how on the field goes.”
Tejada hurt his calf last Saturday while diving for a ball in the seventh inning of a loss to the Red Sox. He wound up on the DL, and was transferred to the 60-day disabled list _ effectively ending his season _ when the Royals acquired utility man Emilio Bonifacio earlier this week.
If he’s unable to latch onto a team next season, that game against Boston will turn out to be the last time Tejada sets foot on a big league field as a player.
“It would definitely be a tough way to go out. There’s no doubt,” Shields said. “But he made the decision and he’s going to have to live with that.”
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report.