Former NFL QB entering final weekend of first pro baseball season
By Bill Whitehead
Special to MLB.com |
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets prospect Tim Tebow isn't certain where his baseball future takes him after this year -- if anywhere, for that matter -- but he expects to be back in Port St. Lucie, Fla., for Spring Training in 2018.
"For me,  will be about training and getting better, and then trying to show up at Spring Training and being ready to go," Tebow said at First Data Field before Thursday's Florida State League game between the Palm Beach Cardinals and the St. Lucie Mets. "I need to be as ready as I can be."
As for being ready to go to perhaps the Arizona Fall League, or somewhere else -- St. Lucie's season ends in Jupiter, Fla., on Sunday -- Tebow said there are no immediate plans.
"It's still something we're figuring out, but for me it'll be a lot of training," the former NFL quarterback said. "It'll be about working on training and building the muscle memory where I can do it for two, five, seven days, and continue to build a couple of weeks at a time."
Building that consistency has been a work in progress for the 30-year-old outfielder, who has played more baseball since his open tryout in May of last year than he has his entire life.
There was the instructional league at the Mets' complex last September after signing with the club, then Tebow headed to Arizona soon after that for Fall League. He worked out with Jacksonville neighbor Daniel Murphy in the winter, and then was back in Port St. Lucie for Spring Training.
A physical specimen who works on his fitness constantly, Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner while at Florida, said the long baseball season is much different than football season.
"It's a very different grind," Tebow said. "It's the first time I've gone through it. It's probably as many games as I've played, more than my whole high-school career. There's a grind to it, and it's something you've got to get used to because it's something I've never done before.
"I think it will be easier [next year] from that standpoint, mentally, knowing what to expect. As far as baseball goes, I think it will be a huge year for me."
Tebow had three hits, including a home run, in his St. Lucie Mets debut on June 28, playing both games of a doubleheader against Palm Beach after his June 26 promotion from Class A Columbia of the South Atlantic League. He also had a 12-game hitting streak from July 2-14 for St. Lucie, recording exactly one hit in each game.
Tebow's best highlight occurred at home on July 13 when he hit his first career professional walk-off homer against Daytona -- his first since his junior year of high school.
"Those were definitely great moments, super fun and one of the best things about playing sports. There are so many great things, but those moments are definitely a lot of fun," said Tebow, who hit .317 over his first 25 games with St. Lucie and batted .279 in June and July.
August was rough for Tebow, though, as he batted .165 in 27 games.
"In looking back, there's a lot of ups and downs, a lot of learning moments. Almost every day there's something that I've never been through before that I'm learning," Tebow said.
Tebow helped St. Lucie break its single-season attendance record of 105,379 set in 2011. The club is currently at 127,516, ranking third in the FSL with one home date remaining.
Bill Whitehead is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.