On the same day the Mets will be battling the Twins at Citi Field, one of their exciting new prospects will be at The Grove in Oxford, Mississippi, on Saturday broadcasting a college football pregame show before the Ole Miss-Alabama game.
Happens every day, right?
No, but this is Tim Tebow we’re talking about.
Tebow, the former NFL quarterback, signed a minor-league contract with the Mets on Sept. 8. He will go from the set of the SEC Network’s traveling pregame show, “SEC Nation,” to Port St. Lucie, Florida, where he will begin workouts as part of the Mets’ instructional league roster on Monday.
“I’m excited about it,” Tebow told Newsday on Thursday in a telephone interview. “I really am. I’ve loved the game of baseball. Hitting a baseball is one of my favorite things to do in sports. I’m excited about the journey, the challenge, the difficulties, all of it. It’s going to be a lot of fun and it’s something that’s definitely exciting for me.”
Tebow, a would-be lefthanded-hitting outfielder who hasn’t played baseball since he was a junior in high school in 2005, will take the first step on an improbable journey to make the major leagues.
The Mets signed the 29-year-old for a $100,000 bonus after observing him in a showcase workout in Los Angeles last month. General manager Sandy Alderson said the signing was not a gimmick or a gambit to make marketing money off Tebow’s name and fame.
Alderson said Tebow is a “role model” who could benefit the much younger players with whom he will interact in the instructional league and later in the minors.
“That meant a lot,” Tebow said. “I’m just grateful for him and his interest in me as a person, as a baseball player. That was one thing that was really cool in our talks, that he wanted me as a person as well. You could see that. What I could try to bring to the young kids that are just starting this journey. Not that I’ve got all the right answers, but I’ve been through a lot, a lot of highs and lows, so to try to share that experience and some of what I’ve been through with those kids.”
Instructional league usually is reserved for young prospects — many of them teenagers — and players who are working their way back from injuries. Tebow said he does not know what the specific plan is for him yet.
“I think we have to get down there to really feel it out and start getting to work,” he said. “And then I think we’ll be able to figure out more of a plan after we get a couple weeks of work in.”
Tebow’s work will be truncated. He will be with the prospects from Monday to Thursday before leaving to fulfill his college football broadcasting commitments and then returning to Port St. Lucie. It’s an unprecedented arrangement, but the Mets were not alone among interested teams in accommodating Tebow’s (much more lucrative) weekend job.
The Mets, of course, are in a playoff race. Tebow said his busy schedule hasn’t allowed him to spend too much time watching his new team.
“I guess a little bit,” he said. “But also just kind of trying to focus on what I can control. Working every day and just trying to get ready so hopefully one day I can be a part of that.”
On Thursday, part of Tebow’s day was spent promoting the just-announced Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which honors college football players for their work off the field. Tebow was a member of the team in 2009.
“I think what’s special about this team is we put so much time and effort into how they do on the field, but I think what’s so important and what we want to send the message to the next generation is what’s even more important is how you are off the field, how you handle yourself,” Tebow said. “That’s why this team is special. These kids are doing great on the field, but they’re changing lives off the field.”