FORT MYERS, Fla. Quarterback-turned-outfielder Tim Tebow will likely play baseball against the Fort Myers Miracle this week.
New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson announced Tebow would play his final game Sunday as a member of the low-Class A Columbia Fireflies. The 29-year-old is being promoted to the Mets’ high-Class A affiliate in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The St. Lucie Mets begin a four-game series at Fort Myers at 7:05 p.m. Friday.
Miracle officials are set to meet Monday to discuss Tebow’s potential arrival, a spokesman for the team said.
The 29-year-old Tebow led the University of Florida to two national championships in football and won the 2007 Heisman Trophy during his stellar career with the Gators.
Baseball has not been as easy for the 29-year-old outfielder who signed with the Mets organization last year. He hit just .220 with three homers and 23 RBIs with Class A Columbia – numbers that usually don’t lead to a promotion.
“For me, it’s not something I have to answer,” Tebow said. “There’s a lot smarter, wiser people than me that make those decisions. I just try and show up and play hard every day.”
Fireflies president John Katz says Tebow’s made a “tremendous impact” on the team and wished him the best “as he continues his journey to Citi Field.”
Alderson said Tebow’s performance had trended positively the past two or three weeks and the Mets thought it was a good time for his promotion.
“Clearly, it’s a step up,” Alderson said. “I certainly think he can handle it.”
Tebow has been a smash hit with fans the past three months in the South Atlantic League. The Fireflies are second in the league with an average attendance of 5,230 before Sunday, and Tebow’s presence has led to sellouts and big crowds at nearly every road stop.
Tebow got a loud ovation when he came to the plate for the first time Sunday with the bases loaded in the first inning. He then hit a hot shot right at the first baseman to end the inning.
He is happy to be headed back to the Sunshine State, where he still has family, friends and many, many supporters in Gator colors.
“I obviously love Florida so this is nice,” he said with a grin. “But the goal and focus is improving as a baseball player.”
Tebow’s first pro baseball stop had a storybook start with a home run in his first at-bat. He added another homer three games later, but he has been mostly inconsistent at the plate.
That’s baseball, Tebow said. He went 0 for 3 during Saturday’s win over Kannapolis, but drove in two runs.
“I know that my progress has led me to having three good at-bats, to bring in two guys,” he said. “As an athlete you can’t worry about those things. You have to focus on, ‘Am I seeing the pitches? What am I doing with them? Am I doing damage with them?'”
Tebow certainly looked comfortable in the Fireflies’ clubhouse, despite being a decade older than several of his teammates.
“We’ve said he’s just one of 25 guys,” Katz said. “At the end of the day, he really is. He wants to succeed. He puts in the work and hopefully, he’ll have continued success at a higher level.”
That’s Alderson’s wish, too, as Tebow continues a journey that he hopes ends at Citi Field in New York.
“I wouldn’t say he has excelled” at Columbia, Alderson said. “But at the same time, what he’s done there – given all the circumstances – justified the promotion.”
Tebow announced last year he would try his hand at baseball, a sport he hadn’t played competitively since high school. A long shot to make the big leagues, he insisted his foray into the game wasn’t merely a publicity stunt.
Hall of Fame scout Tom Kotchman, who works for the Boston Red Sox, saw Tebow play in high school and said last year he thought the former Heisman Trophy winner would have an easier time making the majors as a pitcher than a position player.
Still, Kotchman wouldn’t count Tebow out.
“I would not bet against Tim Tebow,” Kotchman said. “Ever.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.