PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Tim Tebow has arrived to begin his baseball career.
The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback got to the New York Mets’ complex early Monday, and his first workout as part of their instructional league team began later in the morning.
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He was given jersey No. 15, the same number he wore as a quarterback as a national championship-winning phenomenon in college at Florida — where he also donned blue and orange, the same color scheme as the Mets. He also wore 15 in the NFL with Denver and the New York Jets.
He stepped out of the Mets’ minor league clubhouse at 9:47 a.m., milled about with other players for 10 minutes and then took part in some stretching exercises.
Tebow’s first drill was a baserunning lesson, as a news helicopter circled overhead and dozens of reporters watched from just a few feet away off the first-base line. He had the “ballplayer look” down; as he ran, a batting glove flopped about in his left rear pocket.
Tebow is one of 58 players on the team’s instructional league roster, and at 29 he is also four years older than any other invitee. Two of the players on the roster won’t even turn 18 until next year.
Tebow’s last time playing true organized baseball was in his junior year of high school, when he batted nearly .500 for Nease High near Jacksonville, Florida. Hoping now to become a professional outfielder, Tebow worked out for scouts in Los Angeles last month. Not long afterward, the Mets signed him to a deal that included a $100,000 bonus.
Tebow last appeared in an NFL regular-season game during the 2012 season. He was in camp with the New England Patriots in 2013 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, and started workouts with the thought of seriously trying baseball a few months ago.
The Mets say Tebow will be part of daily workouts through Thursday. He’ll be excused Friday and Saturday for his college football analyst duties with the SEC Network, and the instructional roster has a day off Sunday.
“The goal would be to have a career in the big leagues,” Tebow said at his workout last month. “I just want to be someone to pursue what I believe in, what I’m passionate about. A lot of people will say, `But what if you fail? What if you don’t make it?’ Guess what? I don’t have to live with regret.”