OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Don’t be surprised if the New York Mets sneak Tim Tebow into some spring training action.
Manager Terry Collins said he’d like Tebow to play in spring training games even though the former NFL quarterback has a long ways to go in his transition to baseball. Tebow may be a mainstay in Mets minor league camp, but Collins knows people — especially close to where Tebow won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Florida — want to see him play.
“He’s a star in Florida — he should be,” Collins said Tuesday. “Our players, they’re athletes, too. They’re fans, too. They would probably like to know how to run a quarterback sneak one day.”
Collins is well aware of the carnival-like attention that Tebow brings, but that’s nothing new to the Mets. He joked that maybe Tebow has “some fancy cars he can drive to camp,” a reference to the daily driving show outfielder Yoenis Cespedes put on last year in Port St. Lucie.
Cespedes is back with New York after signing a $110 million, four-year deal and much more of a sure thing than Tebow, who is still very much an unknown at age 29.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said it would be inappropriate to refer to Tebow as a “circus animal” but conceded “we knew he’d be overmatched in the Arizona Fall League.” He said Tebow likely will start the year in a full-season Class A league.
The Mets signed Tebow to a minor league contract late this year. An outfielder who didn’t play the sport in college, he hit .194 in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 20 times in 70 plate appearances.
Asked whether there was any advantage to having Tebow attend major league spring training, Alderson said, “No, except for advertising purposes.”
Collins would be OK with that.
“We’re in New York,” Collins said. “We can handle anybody with a name on his back in our camp. If they decide to send him to camp, we’ll get him better.”
Tebow’s baseball skills are still pretty raw, but his persona is larger than life.
Collins thinks there’s a benefit to that.
“His personality, he’s won, this guy has won wherever he’s been,” Collins said. “That’s why I’m surprised when I see guys that walk out on a sports field someplace, they win. They know how to win games and that make-up is important to have.”