TRENTON, N.J. — Tim Tebow has the majors as his long-term goal. But he doesn’t want to openly discuss it. He doesn’t want to shortchange the process. He doesn’t want to look beyond the present.
So the former NFL player and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner does what’s needed. He follows stars like Yoenis Cespedes in spring training. He endures torturous bus rides — like the eight-hour trek from Portland, Maine, that brought him here for Wednesday’s Eastern League Double-A All-Star Game before a standing-room-only crowd of 8,296 at Arm & Hammer Park.
Tebow, from the Mets’ Binghamton affiliate, started for the Eastern Division team as the designated hitter, hit ninth and went 1-for-4, doubling in his first at-bat before striking out in the ninth with the tying run on first base.
“Did I think about that? Heck, yeah,” Tebow said of a possible walk-off homer. “Come on, that’s the only reason you play the game.”
Trey Amburgey from the Yankees’ Trenton affiliate, followed Tebow’s whiff with an RBI double so the game ended as a 4-4 tie and went to a hitting competition (don’t ask) with the West winning. Tebow said he gained “a lot of insight that I’ll take into the rest of the season.”
Maybe with an eventual call to Queens. But his immediate focus is continuing to work for that call.
“I can’t worry about any of that,” said Tebow, 30, the oldest All-Star here. “I have to stay focused on the process and not the maybes, not the hypothetical, not the what ifs.
“You have to be so focused on each day and every day. … I have a lot of room to grow,” said Tebow, who is hitting .270 with five home runs, 33 RBIs. “I know I’m not even close to where I want to be.”
Tebow has quizzed pitchers who gave him a tough time. Few have been tougher than Erie righty Kyle Funkhouser. He fanned Tebow six times in eight at-bats.
“He’s a big name and he’s got a lot of juice,” Funkhouser said. “I’ve had some success against him. He’s pretty patient. But for most of the at-bats I was able to get ahead and finish him off pretty quick.”
Tebow went into sponge mode in the spring, studying and grilling Cespedes.
“I picked Cespedes’ brain a lot,” Tebow said. “Every morning in spring training when he’d get up and go to the cage, I didn’t want to bother him, but I was kind of right behind him.”
Some folks call that stalking.
“A lot of drills that he would do, I would pick up and try to do them. … I’ve learned a lot from him,” Tebow said.
Any player can use the help, but for Tebow it may be even tougher.
“What makes it harder for him is every move he makes is covered by everybody,” said former Yankee Bernie Williams who performed Wednesday’s national anthem. “I don’t think he has an opportunity like every other player at his level to grow. … Everyone is going to expect him to be the superstar he was at the college level in football.”
An eventual move to Flushing for Tebow may have taken a hit with the recent announcement Mets general manager Sandy Alderson again was battling cancer. Alderson was one of Tebow’s strongest supporters.
“I just know with Sandy, I’m praying for him and I know a lot of people are and I just wish him a speedy recovery,” Tebow said. “Some things are more important than baseball.”
John Ricco, part of the Mets’ braintrust filling in for Alderson, said recently there were no immediate plans to promote Tebow, who received unabashed support from one corner: his mother, Pam. In a TMZ interview, she proclaimed her son ready for the bigs.
“That was my mom trying to be sweet, getting caught off guard by TMZ at the airport,” Tebow said. “The good thing is my parents will always believe in me no matter what.”
So until he lands in the majors, there will be that belief — and the work, the process, the bus rides.
“Totally, you have to have that long-term goal, but that can’t be an everyday thought process. That can’t be something that you think about because you have to focus on this day and what can I do?” Tebow said. “A lot of people focus on the ‘one day,’ but I want to be someone who focused on this day.”
Credit: Source link