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Tebow with Mets in '19? There's a chance ...

Former football star on 'mission' to play in MLB, Van Wagenen says
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Once a long shot even to make the upper levels of the Minor Leagues, Tim Tebow now has an outside chance to break camp with the Mets next spring.

New Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Tuesday that he expects Tebow to open next season at Triple-A Syracuse, where he should provide an attendance boost at the Mets' recently purchased top affiliate. But "if he wows us," Van Wagenen continued, "you never know," keeping open the possibility that the former football star could spend Opening Day in the Majors.

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Once a long shot even to make the upper levels of the Minor Leagues, Tim Tebow now has an outside chance to break camp with the Mets next spring.

New Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Tuesday that he expects Tebow to open next season at Triple-A Syracuse, where he should provide an attendance boost at the Mets' recently purchased top affiliate. But "if he wows us," Van Wagenen continued, "you never know," keeping open the possibility that the former football star could spend Opening Day in the Majors.

Realistically, that won't happen after Tebow spent the final two-plus months of last season recovering from a broken hamate bone in his right hand. Prior to the injury, Tebow hit .273 with six home runs and a .734 OPS in 84 games with Double-A Binghamton, making the Eastern League All-Star team. With the Mets out of contention, Tebow stood a strong chance of reaching the Majors as a September callup before he broke his hand.

Video: Tim Tebow doubles in '18 Eastern League All-Star Game

Since that time, Tebow has recovered and resumed baseball activities, hitting multiple times per week "with a real mission to play in the big leagues next year," according to Van Wagenen, his former agent and now his GM. In the past, Tebow has worked on his swing with former Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, a fellow Jacksonville, Fla., native, and with Mets assistant hitting coach Tom Slater. Although the Mets dismissed hitting coach Pat Roessler earlier this week, Slater remains on staff.

Tebow has also continued his work as a college football analyst on the SEC Network. A former Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida, Tebow, 31, went on to play for the Broncos and Jets in the NFL.

Overall, Tebow has hit .244 with a .686 OPS in two Minor League seasons since the Mets signed him in late 2016, but that hardly tells the story of his baseball career. Batting .194 in his professional debut in the Arizona Fall League, Tebow has improved statistically at every rung he's climbed up the Minor League ladder. Along the way, he has developed a reputation as a tireless worker; during his first professional season, Tebow frequently took batting practice until his hands bled.

Video: Tim Tebow homers in his Double-A debut in Binghamton

At the dawn of last year's Spring Training, former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said that he expected Tebow to play in the big leagues at some point. He is now likely to break camp a step away from that goal.

"I have loved this adventure and the journey so far -- the highs and the lows of it," Tebow said last summer. "What it has taught me about life is that I think it is worth pursuing what is in your heart and things that you are passionate about."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

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