Te­bow feel­ing more com­fort­able in pro base­ball

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY PETE IA­CO­BELLI

There are still too many strike­outs. His pa­tience at the plate is a strug­gle. And the bat­ting av­er­age re­mains be­low .250. But Tim

Te­bow be­lieves he’s mak­ing steady progress in his life as a pro base­ball player.

“It feels more com­fort­able,” Te­bow said Tues­day night, a short time af­ter scor­ing the win­ning run in the Columbia Fire­flies’ 2-1 vic­tory over Del­marva. “I’m def­i­nitely see­ing pitches bet­ter. I feel like I’m get­ting bet­ter ev­ery week, too.”

The num­bers bear that out, mi­nus his flashy start for the New York Mets Class A af­fil­i­ate — Te­bow home­red in first pro at-bat, then added a sec­ond homer three games later. An av­er­age that hov­ered in the mid-.100s for the first cou­ple of weeks has jumped to .231. Te­bow had three multi-strike­out games in his first six starts, yet just one in his last 10.

“His at-bats, you see the con­sis­tency,” Fire­flies man­ager Jose Leger said. “Once he finds the rhythm, this guy’s got the right tools to play this game.”

Te­bow dis­played pa­tience against the Shore­birds, reach­ing three times de­spite go­ing 0 for 2. His one-out walk in the bot­tom of the ninth started Columbia’s win­ning rally, with the for­mer Heis­man Tro­phy quar­ter­back for Florida cross­ing the plate with the win­ning run af­ter Gene Cone’s bases-loaded walk.

Te­bow awaited his charg­ing team­mates for con­grat­u­la­tions, but they passed him right up to con­tinue down the first-base line where one had suc­cess­fully stepped on the bag.

“We haven’t had many walkoffs like that,” the for­mer NFL quar­ter­back and Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner at Florida said with a smile. “I’m just glad I didn’t get the Ga­torade.”

Te­bow, 29, has put in the work to im­prove, Leger said. He shows up at the park early for ex­tra bat­ting prac­tices or shags fly balls late to bet­ter his skills in left field. He’s also dealt with the throngs of fans, home and away, clam­our­ing to say hello, take a selfie or get an au­to­graph.

One fan Tues­day night was decked out head to legs in Ga­tors gear. An­other group ar­rived with one per­son in Te­bow’s No. 15 Bron­cos jersey and a sec­ond wear­ing Te­bow’s New York Jets jersey.

It’s not al­ways easy, Te­bow ac­knowl­edged, bal­anc­ing the dis­ci­pline and fo­cus on the field nec­es­sary to get bet­ter at base­ball with the de­mands of oth­ers off it.

“I feel I’m mak­ing progress,” he said. “But it’s a process. It’s just con­tin­u­ing to have that work ethic whether you’re oh for 4 or whether you’re 3 for 4. It’s some­thing I’ve tried to fo­cus on this en­tire time. I don’t want to get too good af­ter a good game or too bad. I’m just try­ing to stay level headed.”

Columbia pres­i­dent John Katz said there’s no timetable for Te­bow’s stay in South Carolina.

“We don’t con­trol any of that,” Katz noted.

Leger would love to have Te­bow around a lot longer. He’s been a leader in the club­house, show­ing the younger guys that ex­tra work is es­sen­tial to suc­ceed at this game.

“I try to bring that even keel ev­ery sin­gle day, with en­ergy,” Te­bow said.

Te­bow

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