PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As he traveled the world this winter, flying to South Africa for his wedding to model Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, then the Maldives for his honeymoon, then Albania, Paris, Rome and beyond for foundation work, Tim Tebow went through his usual routine of trying to fit in
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As he traveled the world this winter, flying to South Africa for his wedding to model Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, then the Maldives for his honeymoon, then Albania, Paris, Rome and beyond for foundation work, Tim Tebow went through his usual routine of trying to fit in baseball when he could. Lacking a batting cage in the Maldives, Tebow asked a tennis instructor to flip him soft tosses on the court. In Vatican City, he considered more alternative workout methods.
“I was thinking it would be kind of cool to run up the Vatican steps like in ‘Rocky,’” Tebow said, laughing. “But I didn’t.”
Reporting to Mets camp this week for his fourth Spring Training with the Mets, Tebow encountered as much cynicism as ever that he will make the Majors. The path grew more difficult for Tebow given a recent rule change preventing teams from expanding their September rosters to 40 players. He has not enjoyed a fully healthy season since 2017. But he also has not given up, calling this a “season” in his life still prime for baseball.
“That would obviously be something that would be special, and I think another part of the dream,” Tebow said of making the Majors. “Part of it’s just playing every day and enjoying it and competing, which I love. Obviously, that would be awesome. It would be a lie if I said that wouldn’t be super cool. Of course that would be something that would be special. But I wouldn’t say it would be a success or failure if that did or did not happen.”
The Mets signed Tebow to a Minor League contract in September 2016, and he has remained in the organization ever since, making the Double-A All-Star team in '18 and reaching Triple-A Syracuse last spring. But a finger laceration prematurely ended his season after only 77 games, in which he hit .163 with four home runs and a .495 OPS. Overall, he is a .223 hitter in the Minors.
Tebow figures to return to Syracuse this summer, hoping for improvement in both his slash line and his health. Beyond that, he doesn’t know. Admitting several times on Sunday that he does not intend to play baseball “forever,” Tebow said he remains committed to doing so for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve tried to be someone that when I love something or I’m passionate about it, I kind of go all in for it,” Tebow said. “Hopefully, that’s something that anyone can see about my life. And I think that’s the biggest thing. And I think that’s also for a time. I think there are seasons for our life that are called for different things, and hopefully this is part of that season in my life.”
In addition to his baseball training, Tebow spent this offseason getting married, working as a college football television analyst, and as always, raising money for his foundation’s “Night to Shine” event, which this year took place in 34 countries and all 50 states. The XFL approached Tebow about quarterbacking a team, but he declined because of his focus on baseball. He has made his big league dream a priority, because in his words, “when I’m 50, I can’t come back and do this.”
Tebow is 32 now, old for a prospect, which is how Mets manager Luis Rojas defined him last week. Like former general manager Sandy Alderson, who initially signed Tebow, Rojas said he “can be a big leaguer at some point.” Current GM Brodie Van Wagenen hasn’t been so bold, though he continues to indulge this unusual experiment.
If nothing else, Tebow is trying to use his status for good.
“If all we did was try to play and win or lose a game, then it still doesn’t matter,” Tebow said. “But if you can transcend that, the platform that you’re given with football or baseball or something, and you can take that to inspire or change or encourage another life, then you did something that truly matters, in my opinion. And that’s ultimately something that I want to have in my life.”
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.