"He's strong, he's got pop, he's just a tremendous athlete -- you just don't find that," Hairston told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez on Friday. "You never know how a guy will react in Double-A or Triple-A. But he is worth the gamble, I can tell you that."
Like Tebow before he signed with the Mets in September, Commings hasn't played baseball since high school, when he was an outfielder at Westside High School in Augusta, Ga. He played college football at Georgia and was a fifth-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Commings' football career was cut short by injuries -- he appeared in just two NFL games, both in 2013 -- and he told Hairston about wanting to return to baseball while the two played pickup basketball earlier in the offseason, as Rosenthal reported. (The two had originally met when Commings was training for the NFL Combine, Hairston told MLB.com.) So Hairston brought Commings to the batting cage at his home.
"When I saw him, I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" Hairston said. "I knew then he had a great swing. It's not complicated, it's fundamentally sound, so I just started to train him. We've been at it for quite some time."
Hairston said Commings' career as a defensive back translates well to playing the outfield, because he already knows how to go back on balls. He said Commings is a center fielder but could also play in the corner outfield.
Commings and Hairston -- whose cousin Charles is now Commings' agent -- have fielded calls from multiple teams, Hairston said. He confirmed to MLB.com that, as Rosenthal reported, Commings has several private workouts with teams lined up and is planning a showcase for March 8 in Arizona if he hasn't yet signed anywhere.
"I told Sanders, 'We want to get the best organization for you that will help you develop and get as many at-bats as possible,'" Hairston said. "He's still young, and he's got the tools. That being said, he could sign a week from now, he could sign after his showcase -- we don't know. It just depends on how things work out."