Te­bow makes strong first im­pres­sion on Mets

For­mer Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner hits home run on first pitch in pro base­ball in­struc­tional league de­but against Car­di­nals

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill White­head

Tim Te­bow made a pow­er­ful first im­pres­sion for the New York Mets in­struc­tional league.

The for­mer NFL quar­ter­back home­red on the first pitch he saw Wednes­day in his in­struc­tional league de­but, against the St. Louis Car­di­nals.

“It was fun,” said Te­bow, who went 1 for 6 and put the ball in play in each plate ap­pear­ance. “I just wanted to have the ap­proach that I was go­ing to be ag­gres­sive. That’s some­thing we’ve been talk­ing about ev­ery day and prac­tic­ing.

“It was prob­a­bly a lit­tle high, but I got good bar­rel on it and it went out.”

The 2007 Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner drove a high 90 mph fast­ball over the left-field fence. The home run came off John Kili­chowski, a left-han­der who pitched for Van­der­bilt and two St. Louis mi­nor league af­fil­i­ates this year.

Left fielder Dy­lan Carl­son scaled the fence in an at­tempt to steal the home run, but his ef­forts came up short as fans roared in ap­proval.

Te­bow sprinted hard around the bases at first then slowed to a trot. The 29-year-old flashed a broad smile as he ap­proached home plate, then was over­whelmed by his team­mates, who had come out of the dugout to swarm him.

“I’m happy for him. I’m glad he found an­other ca­reer that he’s good at,” for­mer Den­ver Bron­cos team­mate Chris Har­ris Jr. said. “Shoot, he’s al­ready hit­ting home runs.

Te­bow also grounded into a dou­ble play, bounced out to short­stop and hit a pair of fly­outs. He hit a

slow roller to third base in his fifth at-bat in the fifth in­ning, nearly beat­ing the throw from third.

“The story con­tin­ues. The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple think he’s too old and doesn’t have enough time,” Mets man­ager Terry Collins said later in Mi­ami. “He’s such a win­ner, such an over­achiever, he may do some­thing peo­ple say can’t be done.”

Kili­chowski, who played for a na­tion­ally top-ranked Je­suit High School team that fea­tured Hous­ton pitcher Lance Mc­Cullers Jr., said he was try­ing to get ahead in the count and thought Te­bow might be tak­ing.

“Just an­other bat­ter. I tried my best not to think about it,” the left-han­der said. “Most of the times guys will take in the first in­ning. I just wanted to get ahead in the count and work on some things.”

Kili­chowski joked that he wasn’t happy the video of Te­bow’s homer was go­ing vi­ral on Twit­ter but that “there’s worse things.”

In fact, Kili­chowski ap­par­ently is a fan of Te­bow’s.

A Florida Ga­tors fan grow­ing up in Tampa, Kili­chowski tweeted out praise of Te­bow dur­ing the 2013 Sugar Bowl when then-Florida quar­ter­back Jeff Driskel turned the ball over three times in the Ga­tors’ 33-23 loss to un­der­dog Louisville.

Fol­low­ing Wednes­day’s in­struc­tional game, Kili­chowski tweeted out to Te­bow: “I thought we agreed you were tak­ing first pitch (at)TimTe­bow”

Added Kili­chowski: “He works hard, hit the ball hard, can’t get mad at him for that.”

JEREMIAH WIL­SON — THE STU­ART NEWS VIA AP

Tim Te­bow hits solo home run in his first at bat dur­ing the first in­ning of his first in­struc­tional league base­ball game for the Mets against the Car­di­nals in­struc­tional club Wednes­day in Port St. Lu­cie, Fla.

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