Tim Tebow totally flops against pros in Spring Training debut
Tim Tebow made headlines last week for launching nine home runs in batting practice for the New York Mets. On Wednesday, he learned just how big the gap is between Major League pitchers and the pitching coaches who throw meatballs in warmups.
The 29-year-old was handed his first start in Spring Training against the Boston Red Sox, batting eighth as the designated hitter -- a move intended to keep Tebow out of the field, where he's struggled to hold his own given his poor instincts and weak arm.
Unfortunately, he didn't look the part of a professional ballplayer at the plate, either.
In all fairness, Tebow's first at-bat came against reigning American League Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. Still, he struck out looking on four pitches, whiffing on a fastball from Porcello the only time he swung.
His next time up at the dish presented an opportunity to set the internet ablaze. The Mets had managed to load the bases with zero outs, and trailed the Red Sox by one run. A hit would likely put New York ahead and begin to quiet Tebow's doubters.
Instead, Noe Ramirez -- a 27-year-old reliever who's pitched poorly for the Red Sox in 26 MLB innings over the last two seasons -- induced a double-play ground ball from Tebow, which is probably exactly what the pitcher wanted. The former Heisman Trophy winner did manage to make contact and drive in a run to tie the game, but the threat was nearly extinguished and Tebow didn't even get credited with an RBI because RBIs aren't credited on double plays.
Tebow finally reached base in his third plate appearance after he was hit by a pitch -- by a fellow former Florida Gator in Brian Johnson, nonetheless. That got the crowd going with a smattering of cheers for Tebow and boos for Johnson.
But he was promptly doubled off first after misreading a line drive to Boston's second baseman, resulting in yet another embarrassing moment.
Tebow's day ended with an unceremonious thud, as he never took his bat off his shoulder during a three-pitch strikeout courtesy of Brandon Workman -- a reliever who won a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2013.
In fact, every pitcher who faced Tebow on Wednesday boasted some level of MLB experience. So, he was bound to struggle. The fact that he put the ball in play against Ramirez is an accomplishment itself, but the double-play result was discouraging in an overall disappointing debut.
Tebow recorded a .194 batting average with 20 strikeouts in 62 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League against some of the game's best, youngest pitching prospects. He's expected to be assigned to one of the Mets' Class A affiliates in April, meaning it should be a long time before Tebow has any meaningful at-bats against pitchers with MLB experience -- if ever.