Tim Tebow reports to Mets camp ready for ‘hardest thing in sports’ – USA TODAY
Tim Tebow address the media after arriving at Mets camp.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Tim Tebow was everywhere Monday at the New York Mets spring-training camp, but nowhere to be found in the actually place that mattered.
You could find Tebow jerseys at the large tent outside the stadium complex.
There were MetsÂ fans wandering around the complex cheering at the mere sight of him.
There were MetsÂ players wearily being asked about Tebow.
And there was Tebow having his own press conference while the Metsâ players workedÂ on the field before their spring-training game against the Houston Astros.
Yet, inside the Mets’Â clubhouse, where there are lockers for 57 players in their big-league camp, none are reserved for Tebow.
He is inside the Mets’ minor-league clubhouse, several hundred yards away from the big-league clubhouse, which on this day seemed like years away.
Still, there was Tebow, smiling in front of all the cameras, putting on the positive spin during his 15-minute press conference, answering to the critics who believe itâs nothing more than a sideshow.
âI just kind of focus on what I can control,ââ Tebow says, âmy attitude, my effort, my focus, trying to get better every single day. Iâm not going to worry about whatever everybody is writing, what everybody is thinking, how Iâm being marketed. I just want to learn the process and have fun out there.ââ
And his odds of Tebow actually making the big leagues one day?
âI donât have to give my chances,ââ he said. âThatâs my ultimate goal. But Iâve had so much fun training, pursuing it. I enjoy the process, and hopefully Iâll have a chance to (play in the major leagues)Â someday.ââ
Certainly, he faces the longest off odds. He is 29 years old. He has not played baseball since his junior year in high school. Now, he wants to be an authentic major-league player.
âI donât think itâs a bigger challenge than I thought,ââ Tebow says. âYouâre picking up a sport 12 years after not playing.Â Part of the challenge is why itâs so fun, and why itâs something Iâm enjoying and loving.
âHitting a baseball is the hardest thing in sports.ââ
Even if he never sets foot in the Metsâ major-league clubhouse, or advances past Class A, the Metsâ players have shown no resentment.
If nothing else, theyâve done nothing but show encouragement.ââ
âItâs great that heâs chasing that dream,ââ Mets captain David Wright says. âIâm sure itâs very difficult not having played baseball for so long and trying to pick it up at the highest level.
âThe short period of time that Iâve been around him, it seems like heâs focused on becoming the best baseball player possible. I think thatâs all that anybody can ask of him.ââ
Tebow spent a month last fall in the Instructional League, taking weekends off for his broadcasting gig. He went to the Arizona Fall League, where he had an abysmal showing, hitting just .194 in 19 games for the Scottsdale Scorpions, with 20 strikeouts in 62 at-bats.
During the winter, he worked out with Mets hitting instructor Kevin Long, Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, former catcher Chad Moeller and former All-Star outfielder Gary Sheffield.
âI got a chance to see him in person in January when I worked out with (Long),ââ Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson said. âHis physical presence is amazing to see. Heâs a very strong individual. He was talking about the game, wanting to learn the game, and wanting to work.
âHe was hitting six times a week. His work ethic is through the roof, which obviously is what you have to have. So heâs not Cadillac-ing through this by any means. So itâs not just show up, roll me out there, here I am.
âIf he doesnât make it, itâs not because he didnât try. If it doesnât happen, it definitely wonât be because of efforts.Â Iâm excited to see what he can do.ââ
The Mets, who signed him to a $100,000 contract last year, say there are no specific plans for Tebow this spring. Yet, there will be a time sometime this spring when the Mets will bring him over the major-league camp, just seeing what he can do, and providing a bit of a buzz to a mundane spring-training schedule.
âWe are hopeful that (Tebow)Â will demonstrate enough progress in spring training,ââ Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Sunday, âthat we will send him to a full-season club.ââ
Yes, where perhaps a sell-out crowd will be on hand, watching the spectacle.
âThis game is about our fans, it will always be about the fans,ââ Collins told reporters Sunday. âI think our fans should get a chance to see him.
âThis 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.
âI salute him for what he’s trying to do. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be very difficult. But he’s a tremendous competitor. I know he’s a winner. That’s going to mean a lot in that big clubhouse full of young kids over there.ââ
Maybe, this is what itâs really all about.
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