Tebow takes positives out of Mets' camp

Former NFL QB learns from teammates, plans to keep honing skills

March 10th, 2017

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- There are so many aspects of professional baseball that Tim Tebow is still unearthing, so much he admittedly still must learn. Upon trekking over to First Data Field on Friday for his second Grapefruit League game, Tebow linked up with as his partner for a game of catch.

Since arriving from Cuba, Cespedes has become famous for his warmup routine, which on Friday began with a two-pound baseball, then a softball, then finally a regulation baseball. The sequence took Tebow aback, resulting in multiple throws over Cespedes' head. But Tebow drew from it.

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"That's something I can really learn from," he said. "They've been doing it for a long time, and some of these guys are the best in the world at exactly what they do."

Two days after his first Grapefruit League game, in which he finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a double play, was picked off first base and even wandered into the wrong on-deck circle, Tebow did not come away from his second -- and likely final -- big league contest with better results. The former NFL quarterback finished 0-for-4 with a strikeout, three groundouts and one inaccurate throw from right field in a 7-6 loss to the Astros.

But Tebow also came away enthused by what manager Terry Collins called "better at-bats," and even more so by what he learned from his teammates. For the game's first five innings, Tebow sat on the bench next to , who jokingly referred to himself as a coach. The two talked about pitch sequences and locations. Tebow soaked it all in.

At a 10-minute news conference following the game, Tebow spoke as much of those interactions as of his performance on the field, which he knew coming into this week would be raw.

"You want to be an inspiration in how you carry yourself, and why you're going after something and how hard you're going for something," Tebow said. "But I think also for me, it's been improvement the entire time -- trying to focus on the improvement, not just the results. … I'm just going to continue to work and continue to build, and believe in the process. It's never as good as it seems and it's never as bad as it seems."

There will always be critics, Tebow understands, who will howl about his 0-for-7 overall performance, citing it as evidence that his at-bats should have gone elsewhere. And surely, not every part of this experiment has gone swimmingly; Treasure Coast Newspapers reported on Friday that Port St. Lucie police arrested an alleged stalker at the Mets' Spring Training complex, shortly after Tebow arrived in town last month. When asked about the episode, Tebow said, "I wish her the best, and just pray for her. I want her to get as much help as she needs."

Tebow went on to say he feels safe at Mets camp, even on back fields with minimal security. It is there that he will spend the rest of his days this month, now that the Mets' plans to use him in Grapefruit League games have expired. But that doesn't mean the crowds will disappear completely. Every day since Tebow has arrived, a small but faithful group has showed up to catch a glimpse of his highs, his lows and everything in between.

"To be able to encourage someone, make someone's day, put a smile on their face, it means so much," Tebow said. "You want to be bigger than whatever game you're playing."