Tim Tebow’s Baseball Talent Discussed by David Wright, Curtis Granderson, More – Bleacher Report

New York Mets outfielder and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow laughs during a news conference at the baseball teams spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

John Bazemore/Associated Press

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2017

Former Florida and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has continued his attempt to start a career in a new sport, baseball, and is currently at spring training with the New York Mets.

That, as you might expect, has provoked no shortage of opinions from around the baseball world. But his prospective teammates and manager certainly appear to be rooting him on.

“It’s great that he’s chasing that dream,” Mets third baseman David Wright told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “I’m sure it’s very difficult not having played baseball for so long and trying to pick it up at the highest level. The short period of time that I’ve been around him, it seems like he’s focused on becoming the best baseball player possible. I think that’s all that anybody can ask of him.”

Outfielder Curtis Granderson has been impressed by Tebow’s work ethic.

“His physical presence was amazing enough, but he was hitting six times a week,” Granderson said, per Nightengale. “His work ethic is through the roof. So he’s not Cadillac-ing through this by any means. It’s not just show up, roll me out there, here I am. If he doesn’t make it, if it doesn’t happen, it definitely won’t be because of his efforts.”

New York Mets manager Terry Collins, meanwhile, sees no harm in giving Tebow a chance to make the team.

“I think our fans should get a chance to see him,” he told Nightengale. “This guy is a special person, tremendous athlete. He got a huge name in the sports world and he’s in our organization trying to be a baseball player. I’m certainly not going to take anything away from that.”

Others would disagree. Tebow is a 29-year-old who didn’t play any baseball in his adult life as he pursued a football career. After he played in the Arizona Fall League, one executive told Dan Martin of the New York Post, “Ugly. In the field and at the plate, nothing looks natural.”

An AL executive added: “The deck is stacked against him because of his age. He has phenomenal makeup and he has some power, but his swing is thick and he’s a below average defender.”

The age component certainly bothers former MLB player Preston Wilson, who feels Tebow’s presence in spring training with the Mets has taken an opportunity away from a player who might be more qualified:

For Tebow to shake such criticisms, he has to take an enormous step forward. He hit just .194 in 19 Arizona Fall League Games, striking out 20 times. And Tebow’s mentor, Gary Sheffield, hasn’t been pleased with some of the adjustments Tebow has since made, as he told Nightengale:

“I saw Tim this winter, and I told him I don’t approve of his new technology of hitting. His swing is completely different. He’s got this uppercut now that’s built for homers instead of trying to get backspin to hit line drives that turn into homers. I don’t like that approach when you’re trying to learn the game again.”

However, Sheffield followed up his criticism with comments expressing support, citing Tebow’s will and strong desire to succeed as reasons he wouldn’t doubt him.

Really, the critiques of Tebow haven’t changed since his football days. He was always a fantastic athlete, hard worker and positive presence who lacked the technical skills required to succeed at the highest level. In the NFL, that translated to slow reads and inaccurate throws at quarterback. In baseball, it likely will mean an inability to hit for a high average.

The odds that he’ll ever actually play for the Mets, or any other MLB team, are minuscule. Just don’t expect that to deter Tebow.

“I’m not going to worry about what everyone’s writing, or what everyone’s thinking, or however I’m being marketed,” Tebow said. “I just want to be able to continue the process, enjoy the process, enjoy every day, get to know my teammates and have fun out there.”


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