HOUSTON — In hopes of continuing his pursuit of a professional baseball career, Tim Tebow turned to a former slugger: Gary Sheffield.
Tebow, the NFL quarterback-turned-outfielder, said Friday that he’s been working out with Sheffield in preparation for spring training in the Mets’ minor league camp.
“I’ve definitely done a lot of training with Gary,” Tebow, 29, told Newsday after leaving Radio Row at the Super Bowl. “He’s awesome. Gary’s a good friend and he’s just always been a supporter. He’s one of the best to ever do it, so he’s been very helpful.”
Sheffield, 48 — a former Yankees and Mets outfielder who had a .292/.393/.514 slash line and 509 homers in 22 major-league seasons — has long been a vocal supporter of Tebow. Last summer, the nine-time All-Star tweeted that he could see Tebow’s baseball potential after spending time together in the batting cage.
“He’s a NATURAL,” Sheffield wrote at the time. “I absolutely believe in his ability to play in the bigs. Tim has IT #focused.”
Tebow, who played for the Jets in 2012, said he’ll report to Mets minor league camp in Port St. Lucie, Florida, “in a couple weeks.”
After signing with the Mets in September, Tebow played in the Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League. The lefthanded hitter batted .194 with 20 strikeouts in 70 plate appearances.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said of being with the Mets’ organization. “I’ve loved the entire experience. They’ve been great to me. And looking forward to spring training.”
Tebow has said he spent this winter training with former Met Daniel Murphy, now the Nationals’ second baseman.
A first-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2010, Tebow chose to pursue baseball after his football career stalled. He also signed on as a college football analyst with the SEC Network in December 2013.
Tebow, who played baseball in high school, won the Heisman Trophy during his sophomore season at the University of Florida. With the Broncos, he was 8-6 as a starter and directed a playoff victory over the Steelers in 2011. Tebow last started a game on Jan. 1, 2012.
Two months later, the Broncos traded him to the Jets, but his stint with them was unproductive and short-lived. He was released in April 2013.
He spent time with the Patriots in training camp in 2013 and with the Eagles in the summer of 2015 but was released by both teams.