PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — With five plate appearances facing three different Marlins pitchers Thursday, Mets outfield prospect Tim Tebow had a productive day at the plate.
Batting in each of the first five innings, Tebow smacked two hard singles, drew a walk, grounded into a force play and was caught looking at a third strike. He drove in one run and scored twice, though he was also thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a line single to rightfield.
As the leftfielder for the first four innings, Tebow was not really tested, making a routine catch of one fly ball.
Still in its early stages, the conversion to baseball for the 29-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback would seem to be going better than expected.
After two games against opposing teams, Tebow is 3-for-10, including his home run Wednesday, with a walk and a strikeout.
The Mets did not make Tebow nor any of his coaches available to the media after Thursday’s game.
The Marlins threw a variety of pitchers at Tebow, starting with 6-3 lefthander Braxton Garrett, the seventh overall pick in the June draft out of a Florence, Alabama, high school. Garrett was facing professional hitters in competition for the first time.
In the first inning, with Mets leadoff hitter Ricardo Cespedes on first base with a single, Tebow remained aggressive. Even with a 3-and-0 count, Tebow swung at the first strike he saw, hitting a grounder to short that was nearly a double play, but Tebow beat the relay to first.
On a hit and run, Tebow easily reached third on Blake Tiberi’s single to right, then scored on Dash Winningham’s groundout to first base.
Batting third in the second inning with runners on first and second, Tebow drove a hard ground single up the middle off a 97-mph fastball, the first pitch he saw from righthander Jordan Holloway.
Tebow’s hit drove in Raul Beracierta, then Tebow and Milton Ramos scored on a single by Hansel Moreno.
Gabriel Baez, an 18-year-old Dominican lefthander, faced Tebow for his next two plate appearances. In the first, Tebow watched three balls, took a strike, then a fourth ball low for a walk. Baez got even the next time, though. Tebow fouled off the first pitch, then took two strikes, the called third strike apparently nipping the outside edge of the plate.
Facing Aneury Osoria for his last at-bat of the day, Tebow saw a completely different arm angle than he had seen so far. The first pitch from the sidewinding Dominican righthander with a 93-mph fastball was called a strike, then Tebow took a pitch inside. The third pitch he laced on a line into left-center for a single.
With Moreno at bat, Tebow advanced to second on a wild pitch. Moreno then lined a single to shallow right, but rightfielder Sean Reynolds’ strong, accurate throw nailed a sliding Tebow trying to score.
After working out Friday morning, Tebow leaves for his other job as a television analyst for SEC football. He will resume his baseball career Monday.