Tim Tebow strikes out twice, gets plunked and doubled off first in spring Mets debut

Quarterback-turned-outfielder Tim Tebow played in his first official spring training game as a member of the New York Mets on Wednesday. The Mets had a pair of split-squad games on the schedule, and Tebow was one of several players called up from minor-league camp to help fill out the rosters.

Here is Tebow in the dugout before the game:

Tebow, who started at designated hitter and batted eighth, was not eased into things. He faced Red Sox righty and reigning AL Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello in his first spring game. Tebow wore No. 97 and didn’t have a nameplate on jersey, so the Mets treated him like any other minor-leaguer. (For at least one day.)

Not surprisingly, Tebow received a big hand from the home crowd in Port St. Lucie, Florida, as he walked to the plate for his first at-bat. Here’s the video:

Tebow struck out on four pitches against Porcello. He was leading off the third inning. Tebow’s at-bat went ball, strike (taken), strike (swing-and-miss), strike (taken). Strike three was borderline, and the reigning Cy Young winner is going to get that call.

Tebow grounded into a 4-6-3 double play against righty Noe Ramirez in his next at-bat. The bases were loaded with no outs in the fourth inning. His double-play ball did drive in a run, but Tebow doesn’t get an RBI because there are no RBI on double plays. To the action footage:

Tebow fouled off the first pitch of the at-bat, went too far on a check swing on the second pitch, took the third pitch high for a ball, fouled off the fourth pitch, then hit the double-play grounder. The crowd cheered him as he jogged off the field.

In the sixth inning, Tebow took a pitch to the shoulder from a fellow Florida Gator, left-hander Brian Johnson. No, it was not intentional. Tebow remained in the game. The next batter, L.J. Mazzilli, hit a line drive right at the second baseman. Tebow broke toward second on contact and was doubled off first base on the liner. Here’s the hit-by-pitch:

And, finally, in the eighth inning Tebow struck out on three pitches against righty Brandon Workman. He didn’t take the bat off his shoulders. Workman, who was part of Boston’s World Series team in 2013, busted Tebow inside with two fastballs after the hit-by-pitch -- Tebow noticeably flinched at the two pitches on the inside corner -- then finished him off with a beautiful breaking ball. 

All told, Tebow went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and the ground-ball double play. He faced four different pitchers, all of whom have some level of big-league experience. Not the easiest first official spring game for Tebow, but that’s how it goes.

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Tim Tebow made five outs in four at-bats Wednesday. USATSI

The 29-year-old Tebow hit .194 with 20 strikeouts in 62 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League last year, and the scouting reports weren’t exactly favorable. Based on his four at-bats Wednesday, it’s easy to see why. His swing is long and he let more than a few hittable fastballs go by. I suppose that’s not surprisingly considering Tebow hadn’t played baseball since high school.

The Mets are expected to have Tebow play another spring game on Friday. That’ll be part of another set of split-squad games. It’s possible Tebow will play the outfield rather than serve as the designated hitter in that game.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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