When asked why the Mets would invite Tim Tebow to be one of the 15 non-roster players to participate in the Major League Spring Training camp, GM Sandy Alderson said, “I think he will play in the major leagues. That’s my guess. That’s my hope, and to some extent now after a year and a half, a modest expectation.”
And why not? Tebow, now 30, is running out of time. He has been working hard at relearning the craft of baseball. He’s only played 126 minor league games at the Single-A and A-Advanced levels, but spent considerable time this off-season with the Mets hitting coaches, working on his swing. He’s a little leaner (about 12 pounds) and also worked out with his Jacksonville neighbor, Daniel Murphy.
“I think for me [the biggest difference] was going into the offseason knowing what I had to work on because [2017 was] my first time playing a season for 12 years, since my junior year of high school,” Tebow said. “So it was really going into the offseason where I could really make the changes. It’s hard to fully make changes in a season when you’re competing one night, you work on the next day, you compete the next night, so it’s hard for those changes to really lock in.
“Going back, looking at all the changes that I wanted to make in every area of the game and then setting a plan of action of, ‘OK, we’re going to spend four weeks on this, six weeks on this,’ and so we had a plan going into of what we wanted to get changed. You don’t have to go compete that night, so that makes it a little bit easier to sink in.”
Although Alderson has never commented on Tebow’s chances of making it to The Show before, Tebow is still taking everything one day at a time.
“My goal isn’t about what’s going to happen one day,” Tebow said. “My goal is to focus on this day and our outfield work, my training session, getting to know all the new coaches, and working as hard as I can. I got into this because I love it. I’m passionate about it, and I think for me it’s being able to lock in and have tunnel vision regardless of what team I’m on wherever they decide to put me.”
Now Alderson is giving him a better than average chance at one day roaming the outfield at Citi Field. “He’s dedicated himself to improving,” Alderson said. “Spent a lot of time in the offseason working with hitting coaches and so forth. I think realistically given his age, given where he started, he and we need to try and accelerate the process. This experiment, if you will, is not going to last forever, but he’s made meaningful progress.”
Unlike the failed Michael Jordan experiment, Tebow has shown that although he has been out of the game for 12 years, he can actually play the game. He hit .226 with 8 home runs, 24 doubles and 52 RBI while toiling with the Columbia Fireflies and the Port St. Lucie Mets. He even had his average over .300 during the season.
He may be a long shot, but there is no quit in Tim Tebow. “I tried to go in open-minded, learning, knowing that I haven’t played this game in 12 years and that I wanted to absorb as much information as I could, make the changes, try to improve, try to grow as an athlete — not only physically and mentally in every different way that I could understand the game,” he said. “Instead of learning on the fly, now I get to have the chance … to be able to react, and that always makes you a much better athlete.”
If that isn’t the Feel-Good story of the 2018 season, I don’t know what is.
Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.