In a season filled with disappointment, the Mets’ best chance at September excitement has been put to rest.
Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback turned Mets prospect, will undergo surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his right hand. He suffered the injury while playing for Double-A Binghamton on Thursday.
“It’s about a six-to-eight-week recovery, so effectively his season is over,” Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said after Tebow was examined Monday at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
Tebow, who played in the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game on July 11, significantly improved this season. He had a 273/.336/.399 slash line, six home runs and 36 RBIs for Binghamton, and it reached the point that at nearly every Mets game at Citi Field, an audible “We want Tebow!” chant could be heard.
With Monday’s news, however, any chance that the 30-year-old outfielder will play in Flushing this season has been erased for a Mets team that continues to fight through one injury and misfortune after another. The Mets entered Monday 40-56, in last place and 14 games out of first in the National League East.
Ricco said the team hasn’t had discussions with Tebow about his future yet but answered “no” when asked if he has any reason to believe the two-time national champion at Florida won’t be back next season.
“I view this season as a complete positive,” Ricco said. “Obviously, it ended disappointingly. He’s going to miss the last month-plus. But to see a guy who in a couple short years is now competing at the Double-A level, thriving really — the last couple months, he was playing really well. I don’t see how that can be anything but a positive.”
Tebow was coming off one of his best stretches of baseball as a professional, hitting .301 in June and .340 through 15 games in July.
When Tebow announced that he wanted to play baseball — a sport he hadn’t participated in since his junior year at Nease High School near Jacksonville in 2005 — he was met with skepticism. When the Mets signed him to a minor-league contract in September 2016, many thought of it as a publicity stunt and a way for the Mets to sell merchandise and minor-league tickets.
Tebow, who also signed a multiyear contract to work for ESPN and the SEC Network in May 2017, spent last year at two levels in Class A, hitting a combined .226 with a .309 on-base percentage and eight home runs.
The Mets don’t need to place Tebow on the 40-man roster this offseason, Ricco said. That will allow them to keep him in their minor-league system if the club and Tebow believe that’s the best decision.
“Obviously, the age factor is there and it’s tough for him to miss this last month, but I view this as nothing but a positive,” Ricco said. “He really gone out and made great strides.”