clearn.png
Friday March 22nd, 2019 4:24AM

Game changer: Tebow enters Mets camp 'all in' on baseball

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — By now, Tim Tebow has shown he belongs in professional baseball. He's fully committed to the game and much more comfortable on the field.

Sometimes, though, he still sounds like a football player.

On his first day at spring training with the New York Mets, the former NFL quarterback was reflecting on last year, when he injured his ankle stepping on a sprinkler head at the beginning of camp.

"I didn't run or I didn't play one snap of outfield," Tebow said Saturday, eliciting big laughs while catching himself.

Nevertheless, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner is no fish out of shoulder pads anymore. He's not on the 40-man major league roster, but he's in big league camp for the second consecutive year and ticketed for Triple-A Syracuse in April.

One step away.

"This will be like, sort of the biggest spring training for me," the 31-year-old Tebow said. "This journey isn't defined by just getting there. I think, shoot, I've already enjoyed it enough to say it's worth it. The whole process. Would that be awesome? Of course it would. It would be such an amazing thing and it would be so enjoyable, but at the same time, regardless of what happens, I know that I'll enjoy it every day and I think that's the biggest thing for me."

In his second full season of minor league baseball, Tebow batted a respectable .273 with six home runs, 14 doubles and 36 RBIs in 84 games for Double-A Binghamton last year. The outfielder socked a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw, then hit .301 in June and .340 in 15 games during July. He even doubled in the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 11.

Eight days later, however, he broke the hamate bone in his right hand while taking a swing. Season-ending surgery squashed any hope of a fast promotion to the majors.

"He did a tremendous job last year," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "You have to give him credit for the strides he made."

They were evident Saturday during batting practice in a group that included top prospect Peter Alonso, a brawny slugger and fellow Florida Gators product.

"Means he's pretty awesome," said a smiling Tebow, who won two national football championships in college.

Tebow's thick arms and muscular frame helped him launch several balls over the fence on a back field. He's been working with personal hitting coach Jay Gibbons, an ex-major leaguer who traveled with Tebow throughout the offseason while he worked his other job as a college football television analyst.

Tebow said he took batting practice on countless college ballfields all over the country.

"It's hard contact. I think I need to have a talk with him about his conditioning. He's probably not strong enough," Callaway cracked. "So yeah, it's raw power, it's real, and the bat moves through the zone pretty swiftly."

"This kid has confidence, because he works. And I definitely see a baseball player out of Tim Tebow. Not just because he's in a uniform, but because he wants it so bad," the manager added.

At the souvenir stand between Tom Seaver Curve and Willie Mays Drive, No. 15 Tebow T-shirts were on sale for $32 along with those of several other players. Tebow's shirt was gray, while the big leaguers were in blue.

"We're just going to get him out there as much as possible," Callaway said. "We want to get him out there and see major league pitching. And I know he's going to continue to improve because that's who he is."

Regardless of whether he ever makes it to the majors, Tebow has come a long way in a short time on the diamond after spending 2010-12 in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets. Remember, it was just a few years ago that he picked up baseball again for the first time since high school.

A national celebrity also popular for his charity work and outspoken faith, Tebow was laughed at and criticized when he embarked on his new career. Last spring, limited to at-bats as the designated hitter because of an ankle he said was broken, Tebow went 1 for 18 (.056) in seven games with the Mets before returning to minor league camp. He said the pain caused bad mechanics.

"It's kind of hard to put into words how much more comfortable I feel, to be honest with you. Just in the little things. Shoot, in knowing what I'm going to grab to bring out there with me for practice, you know?" Tebow said. "Just playing catch, going through the motions, balls off the bat, off the wall, all of those things."

And while some players bemoan the monotony of spring training, Tebow enjoys the workouts under the sun and inside the cage, always trying to improve.

"I love the grind of it. I love the challenge," he said. "Even like for football with training camp, I loved it. I think I was kind of weird that way, but I embraced it. I kind of think I'm the same way with baseball."

So even with revered ex-Florida coach Steve Spurrier pitching him a spot in the new Alliance of American Football, Tebow wasn't interested.

"It wasn't very hard — and they've called a lot. And Coach Spurrier keeps calling — and I love Coach Spurrier," Tebow said. "I'm all in on baseball. No way could I stop and not give this the chance after everything that I've worked for."

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Baseball , AP Online Football, College Sports, AP Sports - Major League Baseball, AP Sports - Minor League Baseball, AP Sports - College Football, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Chicago police: Jussie Smollett assault case has 'shifted'
Chicago police say "the trajectory of the investigation" into the reported attack on Jussie Smollett has shifted
9:23PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Adam Silver's annual NBA address keys on competitive balance
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, in annual All-Star address, says league can still improve on competitive balance
9:09PM ( 20 minutes ago )
State Department: Nauert out as pick for UN ambassador
The State Department says Heather Nauert, President Donald Trump's pick to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has withdrawn her name from consideration.
9:08PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Gene Littler, US Amateur and US Open champion, dies
Gene Littler, with a fluid swing that led to US Open title and spot in Hall of Fame, dies at age 88
7:39PM ( 1 hour ago )
NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa
The NBA and FIBA are bringing a pro league to Africa, set to begin play in January
7:34PM ( 1 hour ago )
Fresh faces and new sponsors give Daytona 500 throwback feel
NASCAR's biggest race features 8 drivers making their Daytona 500 debut and a handful of sponsors new to the sport
7:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Luis Severino, Yankees agree to $40M, 4-year contract
Right-hander Luis Severino avoided an arbitration hearing with the New York Yankees, agreeing to a $40 million, four-year contract
10:34PM ( 22 hours ago )
Cubs' Russell sorry for 'pain' he caused ex-wife, no details
Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell says he's sorry for the "hurt and the pain" he caused his ex-wife but didn't detail what prompted a 40-game suspension under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy
5:05PM ( 1 day ago )
AP source: Severino, Yanks agree to $40M, 4-year contract
Right-hander Luis Severino avoided an arbitration hearing with the New York Yankees, agreeing to a $40 million, four-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press
1:46PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Baseball
Pelicans fire GM Dell Demps amid Anthony Davis fallout
New Orleans Pelicans fire general manager Dell Demps amid Anthony Davis fallout
7:54PM ( 1 day ago )
Kaepernick, Eric Reid settle collusion grievances with NFL
Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid have settled collusion lawsuits against the NFL
6:57PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Kareem says NFL settlement a win for Kaepernick
Basketball Hall of Famer and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says Colin Kaepernick's settlement of a collusion case against the NFL is a victory for the quarterback
6:47PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Football
Guy, Hunter lead No. 4 Virginia past Notre Dame, 60-54
Kyle Guy scored 22 points and De'Andre Hunter had 20 with 10 rebounds as No. 4 Virginia beat Notre Dame 60-54
4:15PM ( 5 hours ago )
No. 6 Michigan starts fast, beats No. 24 Maryland 65-52
Charles Matthews scored 14 points and Iggy Brazdeikis added 13 to lift No. 6 Michigan to a 65-52 victory over No. 24 Maryland
3:43PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: US tops World in Rising Stars game, 161-144
Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers scored 35 points, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics added 30 and the U.S. beat the World team 161-144 in the Rising Stars game for first- and second-year players at All-Star Weekend
10:59PM ( 22 hours ago )
College Sports
Kyler Murray chooses NFL over baseball and A's
Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray says he will pursue a career in the NFL over playing baseball for the Oakland Athletics
5:49PM ( 5 days ago )
Garth Brooks in spring training with Pittsburgh Pirates
Garth Brooks has come out of baseball retirement
4:48PM ( 5 days ago )
Harper, Machado, Kimbrel, Keuchel on market as camps open
Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel won't be around when the bat and ball bags are opened at spring training throughout Florida and Arizona this week
3:24PM ( 6 days ago )
AP Sports - Major League Baseball
3-batter minimum, early trade deadline, DH changes proposed
MLB, players discuss bold changes including 3-batter minimum before pitching change except at start of inning, single trade deadline set before All-Star break, expanded rosters
5:26PM ( 1 week ago )
Back from lifetime ban, Mejia gets minors deal with Red Sox
Jenrry Mejia, allowed back into baseball after three positive drug tests, has agreed to a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox
7:59PM ( 2 weeks ago )
AP source: MLB seeks to increase DL, option time
AP source: Major League Baseball seeks to increase DL and option time in effort to reduce use of relief pitchers and boost offense
3:30AM ( 3 weeks ago )
AP Sports - Minor League Baseball
Gamblers bet on new US football league despite no history
Almost no one knows the players, and there's virtually no history to look back on. But that's not stopping people from making bets on America's newest professional football league, the Alliance of American Football.
4:10PM ( 3 days ago )
New Jersey becomes first US state to take legal Oscars bets
Are you so sure that Lady Gaga will win an Oscar for her performance in a "Star is Born" that you'd be willing to bet on it
2:14PM ( 4 days ago )
Notre Dame receiver charged in campus officer assaults
Notre Dame redshirt sophomore receiver Javon McKinley has been charged in an assault on two campus officers
1:02PM ( 4 days ago )
AP Sports - College Football
AP Source: Broncos to acquire Joe Flacco from Ravens
AP Source: Ravens agree to trade veteran QB Joe Flacco to Denver Broncos for 4th-round pick in this year's draft
3:39PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Source: Antonio Brown asks Steelers for trade
Antonio Brown wants out of Pittsburgh, posts a farewell message to city and Steelers fans while asking for trade
4:10PM ( 4 days ago )
Browns give troubled running back Kareem Hunt second chance
The Cleveland Browns have signed Kareem Hunt, the running back cut by Kansas City in November after a video showed him pushing and kicking a woman the previous February
7:05PM ( 5 days ago )
AP Sports - NFL
Chicago police: Jussie Smollett assault case has 'shifted'
Chicago police say "the trajectory of the investigation" into the reported attack on Jussie Smollett has shifted
9:23PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Adam Silver's annual NBA address keys on competitive balance
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, in annual All-Star address, says league can still improve on competitive balance
9:09PM ( 21 minutes ago )
State Department: Nauert out as pick for UN ambassador
The State Department says Heather Nauert, President Donald Trump's pick to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has withdrawn her name from consideration.
9:08PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Barrett has triple-double, No. 2 Duke beats NC State, 94-78
RJ Barrett had Duke's first triple-double in 13 years, finishing with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the second-ranked Blue Devils' 94-78 victory over North Carolina State on Saturday night
9:04PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Thomas leaves Riviera with 1-shot lead and long day ahead
A short day of work for Justin Thomas, a lone day Sunday at Genesis Open
8:59PM ( 31 minutes ago )