PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Tim Tebow knows he can still improve on everything.
Given his numbers, that’s obvious.
If he’s the world’s most popular minor league .220 hitter, that’s just fine with the new left fielder for the St. Lucie Mets. Called up to the New York Mets’ advanced Class A affiliate in the Florida State League earlier this week, Tebow was batting eighth for his debut with his new club Tuesday – and is expected to be an everyday player for however long he’s with the club.
“It’s a scary place to get caught up in, the ‘where’s this going to lead,’ ‘what’s going to happen to my future,’ ‘what is the next day,’” Tebow said before the game against the Palm Beach Cardinals. “I get today. Tomorrow’s not promised. I’m going to make the most of today.”
Getting promoted with his numbers is not typical. Then again, nothing about Tebow ever seems typical.
Port St. Lucie was where this baseball odyssey all began for Tebow last fall, when the Mets brought the former University of Florida football hero and NFL quarterback in for camp. He went to the Arizona Fall League, came back to Port St. Lucie for spring training, then was off to play for the Columbia Fireflies in the lower-level South Atlantic League to start this season.
Tebow batted .220 in his 64 games with Columbia. He had three home runs – two in his first three games – and 23 RBI. Some of his numbers were simply bad: he hit .121 when behind in the count, .136 against left-handers, .161 with runners in scoring position and .165 in road ballparks.
Now, he’s moving up to a league where the pitching is markedly better.
“I still feel like I’m extremely new,” the 29-year-old Tebow said.
He is a marketing dream anywhere, particularly Florida. He’s in orange and blue again and wearing No. 15 – just as he did when he was quarterback for the Gators.
For Tebow’s debut, team officials were expecting around 5,000 fans.
“There’ll be people cheering your name in the first inning,” Tebow said. “But wait until they have a couple drinks in the seventh inning, they might be booing you. And guess what? I’ve had a lot of both.”