Update: Tebow had no hits in his Triple-A debut and nothing to say about it.
He went 0 for 4 on Thursday for the top minor league affiliate of the New York Mets. He wasn’t available for comment after the Syracuse Mets lost to the Pawtucket Red Sox 6-3 in 10 innings.
“Tim will be fine. Triple-A is a little different,” Syracuse manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “They match up with him. The lefties give him a tough time. He chased some pitches out of the zone, but overall I think they’re going to try to pound him in and he’s got to make adjustments. Defensively, he caught what he was supposed to catch. I think he did a decent job.”
Tebow drew a nice cheer from the crowd of 8,823 when he was introduced as the left fielder on a crisp, sunny day with the temperature hovering around 40 degrees.
“You’re going to have highs and lows, but you have to be able to stay on the course and when you need to, speak life into it.”
Tebow was re-assigned to minor league camp just over two weeks ago after hitting .267 with one RBI in eight spring training games. He has at least demonstrated he belongs in professional baseball.
“Trying to get those movements for this game where it’s just that natural, I don’t think I’ve fully done that yet, but I think I’ve made a lot of strides,” he said.
DeFrancesco, a veteran of Triple-A baseball, has watched the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Tebow, with his thick arms and imposing frame, from both sides of the diamond.
“He’s come a long way,” DeFrancesco said. “I was on the other side in his first major league spring training game, and for me at that point he looked like a football player trying to play baseball. He was big and thick. He was slow.
“Last year was the first time I got to watch Tim on the same side and you see the major adjustments and the time and energy this man has put in to be the best baseball player he can be,” DeFrancesco added. “Repetition-wise, it takes a long time that Tim’s lost out on, but I believe he’s a quick learner. It does take a lot of reps for him to really understand how to hit major league pitching, and I think this will be a great adjustment for him here.”
That Tebow is a former client of new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who took the job last October after serving as an agent, has helped.
“I think I’m trying to convince people. I think there were times I had to convince myself, too,” Tebow said. “I had to convince him (Van Wagenen) a little bit, but he’s been in my corner and that means a lot.”
The forecast for the opener calls for temperatures in the low 40s with a slight wind and a very slight chance of rain.
There is anticipation in the air, just as there was an hour down the road in Binghamton a year ago.
“It’s his time to shine now,” DeFrancesco said “I’m hoping he has a great season. It would be a great story and you always root for an underdog. Tim is going to fight all the way through. It’s not that easy.
“I hope one day this year I get to say, ‘Tim Tebow, you gotta go to Citi Field and play for the New York Mets.’ ”