LOS ANGELES -- Eternal Tim Tebow optimists who are bullish on the former NFL quarterback's prospects in professional baseball had to like what they saw on Tuesday afternoon.During a live batting-practice session against former Major League closer David Aardsma, who looks like he still pumps the gas in there in
LOS ANGELES -- Eternal Tim Tebow optimists who are bullish on the former NFL quarterback's prospects in professional baseball had to like what they saw on Tuesday afternoon.
During a live batting-practice session against former Major League closer David Aardsma, who looks like he still pumps the gas in there in the low 90-mph range, Tebow mixed in a few hard-hit balls but struck out twice on offspeed pitches. Aardsma's "inning" was supposed to be over. Tebow's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, had told Aardsma as much.
But Tebow insisted it was not over. He wanted one more pitch, Aardsma agreed, and the fastball was sent on a line drive into the base of the wall at the University of Southern California's Dedeaux Field, right under the 365-foot sign.
"That was all Tim," Aardsma said. "He wanted to finish on the right note."
That followed a regular batting-practice session in which Tebow displayed impressive power. He hit three home runs in his first round, including one to right-center field that soared way above the scoreboard, landing at least 400 feet from home plate on the top level of a nearby parking garage. Tebow hit two more in his second round, with one of them hitting the treetops above the scoreboard.
Tebow's notorious competitive fire and physical strength weren't the only qualities displayed at the workout, which was attended by 28 of the 30 Major League teams and watched by 46 scouts, according to Van Wagenen, who added that five or six big league clubs wanted to speak with Tebow afterward. The A's and Cubs were the only two teams not represented at the showcase, MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal reported.
In addition to the baseball people, a large media contingent was on hand to watch Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, two-time national champion at the University of Florida and former quarterback for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, take the first step toward what he desires.
And that is one lofty goal for a guy who hasn't played baseball since his days as an all-state outfielder at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Fla., in 2005.
"The goal would be to have a career in the big leagues," Tebow said. "That's the goal, right? And then the pursuit of it is to give everything you have and be the best you can and give everything. I want to be someone that pursues what I believe in and what I'm passionate about, and a lot of people will say, 'Well, what if you fail? What if you don't make it?'
"Guess what? I don't have to live with regret. I did everything I could. I pushed it. So I would rather be someone that could live with peace and no regrets than the what-if or being scared of if I didn't make it."
Tebow said quitting baseball in high school to pursue football full-time was the second-hardest decision he's made in his life, with the toughest being his choice of Florida over the University of Alabama.
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On Tuesday, Tebow went about his work with the diligence and commitment one has come to expect from him over the years, and he showed off his trademark speed, plus a little bit of pop with the bat.
After running a quick 60-yard dash and throwing and catching in the outfield, Tebow took batting practice and elicited his first share of wows. Then he moved on to live hitting against Aardsma and another former big league pitcher, Chad Smith, and barely missed a "real" homer.
Tebow showed up in what appeared to be top physical condition, looking much like the muscular signal-caller fans recognize from his football days. He started things off impressively, running the 60-yard dash in what various scouts had in the 6.7-second range. After that, Tebow changed into baseball attire and threw in right field while backing up to add distance to each throw. He uncorked a few accurate, strong throws and also threw low a number of times, reaching his target on a bounce or two.
The next exercise was Tebow throwing from right field to second base, third and home. He hit the second baseman on the fly a handful of times. Other throws, particularly to third, weren't quite as strong or accurate. Tebow was accurate on two throws to home that arrived on a bounce.
Tebow then moved to center field and caught every fly ball hit in his direction, looking swift while chasing down the ones that were too far to get to. After that came his power display in batting practice, followed by his performance against live pitching.
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Live batting practice wasn't nearly as prodigious for the left-handed-hitting Tebow, but he put his fair share of balls in play and almost hit one out.
Facing Smith for two "innings" and Aardsma for one, Tebow's best shot was an opposite-field line drive off Smith that carried all the way to the wall and bounced off the very top of the padding by the 365-foot sign. He added four probable singles against Smith, including a bullet up the middle that had an exit velocity of 109 mph, according to the ballpark's Trackman system.
Smith, 26, pitched at USC and saw big league time with the Detroit Tigers in 2014 and the Oakland A's last season. He most recently pitched for the Texas Rangers' Triple-A club in Round Rock in '16. Aardsma, 34, pitched in nine seasons in MLB, including a two-year stint for the Seattle Mariners (2009-10) in which he saved 69 games as the club's primary closer. He most recently pitched for the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo earlier this season.
"I was coming after him," Aardsma said. "Absolutely. I felt really good. And I thought he looked all right, but I've seen him look a lot better, too."
Former big league catcher Chad Moeller, now an instructor who has been working with Tebow for the past few months getting him in baseball shape, said he was proud of his pupil.
"For me, he did great," Moeller said. "I thought he threw the ball well, he obviously ran well. He's a special athlete. I liked what I saw. He showed that he can obviously hit a baseball a long way. He has great opposite-field power, and the live at-bats went well.
"He's facing pitchers, they're trying to get him out. He got fooled on some pitches and he also hit some balls hard. This game's tough, and I thought he did great today."
Facing the media throng after the session, Tebow was asked the question that Moeller said was the first thing he wondered when Tebow asked to be tutored: Why?
Tebow didn't hesitate to answer.
"Because I love it," Tebow said. "Since I was 4 or 5 years old, there's been two things that I've loved the most in sports. One was playing quarterback -- having 10 other guys look at you and depend on you to win a game. And then hit a baseball. Specifically those two things. And there wasn't a season that went by where it wasn't something that I thought about."
Those thoughts were put into action Tuesday. It remains to be seen how far the whole adventure will go, but Tebow is forging ahead, serious about this endeavor and apparently unafraid.
"When I felt like I had this opportunity, I wanted to take it and pursue it with everything I had," Tebow said.
Then, when asked if he liked his chances of getting signed by a team, he smiled.
"I guess we'll find out soon," Tebow said.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.