Same num­ber, new sport: Te­bow works out in in­struc­tional league

Baltimore Sun - - BASEBALL - By Tim Reynolds

PORT ST. LU­CIE, FLA. — Tim Te­bow ar­rived at the New York Mets’ mi­nor league club­house Mon­day morn­ing, find­ing an or­ange­and-blue jersey with No. 15 on the back in his locker.

He was asked if that worked.

“Heck yeah,” Te­bow replied.

It’s the same color scheme he wore as a na­tional cham­pion and Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner at Florida, and the same num­ber he wore with the Ga­tors and through­out his less-than-sto­ried years as an NFL quar­ter­back. And now he’s wear­ing it again as he tries to find a place in base­ball, go­ing through his first work­out with the Mets’ in­struc­tional league squad on Mon­day.

He showed some power, hit­ting three balls in bat­ting prac­tice off the chain-link fence in right-cen­ter — bet­ter than just about ev­ery­one else did. He showed some rust, pop­ping up a half­dozen pitches in that same BP ses­sion. And he showed a need for work, af­ter one of his throws sailed well over some­one’s head and nearly onto an ad­ja­cent field dur­ing a sim­ple game of catch.

“It was a lot of fun,” Te­bow said. “It was great. It was great to be on a team. It was great to just go through a warmup and go through drills, just have fun, take BP, get to know all the guys, try to re­mem­ber as many names as pos­si­ble.”

Pre­dictably, it was also a cir­cus at­mos­phere.

Hun­dreds of fans — many wear­ing Te­bow jer­seys, some even wear­ing now-on­sale Mets shirts with Te­bow’s name — showed up; a worker at the Mets’ com­plex said in­struc­tional league work­outs last year drew maybe a cou­ple of dozen peo­ple, tops. Anew­she­li­copter cir­cled over the field where Te­bow worked for more than an hour. He got a huge cheer from fans for ex­e­cut­ing his first of­fi­cial drill, one where he learned how to take a lead off first base.

“Never been here be­fore,” said Sarah Dale, a wait­ress who says she’ll be a Mets fan. “I’m here for Tim Te­bow. He’s a peo­ple per­son. Ev­ery­one loves him.”

Less than a month ago, Te­bow was in his na­tive Philip­pines, work­ing with spe­cial-needs and ail­ing chil­dren — one of his long­time pas­sions. He’s now one of 58 play­ers on the Mets’ in­struc­tional league ros­ter, and at 29 he’s also four years older than any other in­vi­tee. Two of the play­ers on the ros­ter won’t even turn 18 un­til next year.

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