PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow got a baseball lesson Tuesday: He doesn’t have to wait a week to make up for a bad day.
After striking out in both at-bats in his first Instructional League instraquad game on Monday, Tebow singled in both at-bats on Tuesday.
“Every day I get a little more comfortable,” Tebow said. “Consistency is the key.”
For good measure, the Mets outfield prospect ended the three-inning scrimmage with a diving, tumbling, backhand catch at the warning track in left-centerfield, taking an extra-base hit away from 19-year-old Venezuelan infielder Luis Carpio, who finished this season with the Class-A short-season Brooklyn Cyclones.
Tebow said he has practiced making catches like that, “but not at the same speed or tempo.”
In his first at-bat, Tebow blooped a single to center on a first-pitch, 92-mph fastball from righthander Marcos Molina, a 21-year-old who is returning from Tommy John surgery last fall.
Tebow advanced to second on another hit, then took off for third on a steal attempt, but the batter hit a grounder to shortstop Hansel Moreno, whose low throw trickled away from second baseman Milton Ramos. Tebow alertly got up and raced home.
In his second at-bat, Tebow took the first pitch low for a ball from 18-year-old righthander Cameron Planck, an 11th-round pick out of Morehead, Kentucky, whose $1 million signing bonus was the third-largest among this year’s Mets draft crop.
Tebow rapped the next pitch, a 91-mph fastball, into leftfield for a single.
Tebow said he is trying to follow the advice of his Mets coaches.
“I’m focusing on staying gap to gap and hit everything up the middle,” he said. “That really just has to do with staying through the ball.”
He said there is a big difference between batting practice and facing pitchers who are trying to get him out, and that the next major learning phase is improving his pitch recognition and strike-zone judgment.
“That comes through a lot of at-bats and practice,” he said.
Tebow, 2-for-4 facing live pitching from his Mets teammates, is expected to be in the lineup when they host the Cardinals’ Instructional League team on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old Tebow said he is aware that most of the other players in the Instructional League are about 10 years younger, “so I try to be a good example for the young kids.”
“I’m trying to get used to the process, the whole routine of it,” he said, “Baseball is new for me, but the work ethic is something I’ve been doing for a while.”