NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins has experimented with his leadoff spot all season long. He's tried different types of hitters, but the constant tinkering hasn't led to a definitive long-term answer.

But all of that would be solved if Ruben Tejada returned to being the type of hitter he was last season.

The Mets' shortstop was a line-drive hitter for the Mets in 2012, an ideal fit at the top of New York's lineup. This season, he's been hitting too many fly balls, subsequently losing his role as the Mets' leadoff hitter. Of his last 15 outs entering Tuesday, 12 of them were on fly balls.

The Mets want Tejada to start hitting liners or to start keeping the ball on the ground before he gets his role as the leadoff man back.

"If he was giving us the at-bats that we saw last year, he is the leadoff hitter," Collins said. "The guy that even with two strikes just battles the pitcher."

Collins said Tejada's still swinging with two strikes, but he's not fouling off tough pitches. He's hitting them in the air instead. Collins said Tejada's swing hasn't become too big, he's just getting underneath the baseball.

Tejada, who was hitting .213, was out early Tuesday working with hitting coach Dave Hudgens on trying to stay above the baseball.

Until Tejada gets back to doing that consistently, the top of the Mets' lineup will remain in flux.

"There's some things you've got to do to work to your strengths, and Ruben's is hitting line drives," Collins said. "Fly balls, they're great once in a while, when you hit one in the gap, but he's got to start being that line-drive guy that we know."