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Though he hasn’t performed any miracles just yet, New York Mets outfielder Tim Tebow already has plenty of disciples. Tebow showed up for his first day of work at Mets camp Monday. He may not have a locker in the major-league clubhouse, but he’s already drawing a significant crowd.
It was impossible to ignore the 29-year-old former quarterback turned outfielder’s presence at camp. His jerseys were prominently featured around the park, his appearances were greeting his loud cheers and his possible future teammates were flooded with questions about his potential, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Clearly, Tebow isn’t your typical minor-league camp member just trying to make the club. How else do you explain the 15-minute press conference he held upon arriving at camp?
Throughout the press conference, Tebow addressed being a possible distraction, refused to put odds on his chances at making the majors and embraced the challenge ahead of him while acknowledging things won’t be easy, according to USA Today.
“I don’t think it’s a bigger challenge than I thought,’’ Tebow says. “You’re picking up a sport 12 years after not playing. Part of the challenge is why it’s so fun, and why it’s something I’m enjoying and loving.
“Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing in sports.’’
The whole thing seems bizarre, especially for a minor-league player, right? Well, it gets even weirder. At one point during the press conference, Tebow was asked about his tenure with the Jets.
He laughed off the question.
That was only the start of it, of course. Tebow’s batting practices were watched carefully. One reporter even went so far as to call Tebow a “batting-practice hero.”
We can’t tell if that’s genuine or one of the most devastating back-handed compliments we’ve ever seen.
That hot streak was just the beginning. Tebow reportedly crushed nine home runs during four rounds of batting practice Monday, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN.
Ultimately, that means little. Tebow still faces a steep hill if he hopes to play in the majors. And while he’s gotten high marks from scouts on his power potential, his in-game performances have left much to be desired. Tebow hit just .194, with 20 strikeouts in 64 at-bats in his brief stint in the Arizona Fall League. That performance caused ESPN’s Keith Law to drop quite a harsh scouting report on the former Jet.
Even if Law is right, Tebow is sure to attract plenty of attention as long as he remains in camp. If he lives up to the hype, the extra coverage will be justified. If not, you have to wonder how long it will be before Tebow and his worshippers become a major distraction.
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