PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Tim Tebow’s time as a major leaguer is over, for now, again, but his third season of professional baseball will be different: He is only one step away from The Show.
The Mets reassigned Tebow to minor-league camp Tuesday as a part of their third round of spring training cuts. He will open the season with Triple-A Syracuse.
Tebow went 4-for-15 (.267) with one RBI, one walk and three strikeouts in eight Grapefruit League games. That’s a drastic improvement over his 2018 spring, when he went 1-for-18 with 11 strikeouts while trying to play through a broken ankle he suffered when he tripped over a sprinkler head on his first day of camp.
“What stood out for us was his athleticism defensively,” said general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, formerly Tebow’s agent. “We wanted to get him out of major- league camp because we feel like there’s real development that can be done to get him off to a good start and potentially help us this season.”
The most famous baseball player in the world, Tebow remains steadfast in his quest to make the majors.
“Every day, I’m all-in in pursuing this. If you’ve been around here, you see that. That’s my goal and we’re going to give it as good a shot as we can,” Tebow said.
“I really feel night and day. Last year, the start was so disappointing, just day one getting injured. It’s like an uphill battle the whole time. Just very frustrating. This year I feel like it’s a very different atmosphere, just being able to learn and work and improve, and show that as well.”
Former major leaguer Jose Canseco, a noted loose cannon on social media and an admitted steroid user, volunteered through a series of recent tweets to be Tebow’s personal hitting coach. “I will help you for free, I’m a fan of yours,” Canseco wrote. “You’re never going to make it to the major leagues with that swing. I am here to help you buddy.”
Tebow opted for a polite no thanks.
“I appreciate it, anybody wanting to work with me is humbling, he’s a great one at it,” Tebow said. “But we have a lot of great coaches here.”
The question remains: With so much else going on in his life — making a movie, hosting TV shows, marrying a former Miss Universe — why does he want to spend time busing around the International League?
“It’s just the love of the game and it really being one of my first loves when I was a 4-year-old boy and I had No. 35, just like Frank Thomas,” said Tebow, who was a fan of the Hall of Famer because he played on a “White Sox” youth team.
“You don’t know what tomorrow has, maybe I’ll have those opportunities in the future, but this one I have now. So I want to be all-in in the present and embrace it as much as possible. Those other things are awesome and I love them, and there are so many things I want to go after in my life. But for this season, my life, this is it, playing the game that I love.”
The Mets still can call Tebow over from the minor-league side for major-league exhibition games.
The other cuts Tuesday: relievers Paul Sewald and Jacob Rhame, plus righthander Arquimedes Caminero, shortstop Andres Gimenez, infielder Dilson Herrera, outfielder Rymer Liriano and catcher Ali Sanchez.