PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — Tim Tebow says reaching the big leagues is not his ultimate goal, although he hopes the work he’s been putting in is moving him closer to that dream.
The quarterback-turned-outfielder arrived at the Mets’ minor league camp Monday — of course, with much more fanfare than your typical rookie minor leaguer. He signed autographs and took selfies with fans.
When asked in a news conference what he thinks his odds are of reaching the majors, the 29-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner said: “I don’t know. I don’t have to give my chances.
“That’s not just the ultimate goal,” he added. “The ultimate goal is to be able to enjoy it every day, and I can honestly sit here before every one of you and say that I’ve had so much fun training, pursuing it, getting hits, striking out, whatever it’s been. Today is just the next step in that process, and I’m going to enjoy that.”
He added that hopes to “make some people’s day by being able to give them a hug or sign an autograph or get a couple of hits.”
Following a three-year NFL career that saw him play for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, Tebow decided to try his hand at baseball, a sport he excelled at in high school. His power and athleticism impressed scouts and eventually led to him signing with the Mets.
Tebow participated in the Mets’ instructional league in the fall, homering on the first pitch he saw in a game. He then played in the Arizona Fall League, where he struggled, hitting .194 with 20 strikeouts in 62 at-bats.
“Obviously, I knew it’s a big challenge,” Tebow said. “You are picking up a sport after 12 years of not playing. But I understood it, and I think the challenge of it being so hard is part of why it’s so fun.”
On his first day at minor league camp Monday, Tebow rewarded those who watched him, belting nine homers in batting practice — six to the opposite field.
“I focus on what I can control: my attitude, my effort, my focus and trying to get better every single day,” said Tebow, whose No. 15 jersey is being sold around the complex. “I’m not going to worry about what everyone’s writing, or what everybody’s thinking, or however I’m being marketed. I think for me, I just want to be able to continue the process, enjoy the process, enjoy every day, get to know my teammates and have fun out there.”
Tebow worked during the offseason with Daniel Murphy, his neighbor in Jacksonville, Florida.
“He’s kind of as much of an addict for sports as I am,” Tebow said of the Nationals’ second baseman. “Even Thanksgiving morning, we were out there hitting before he had to go back to his wife and his family.”
Tebow’s football past even crept into the conversation Monday, when he was asked about whether he believed he had been given a fair shot with the Jets.
“That’s not for me to decide at all,” he said. “With the Jets situation, I learned so much from it and I’m grateful for it, from the highs there, which weren’t very many, but a lot of the lows. That was not necessarily the most fun situation, but there’s so many things I learned and tried to improve my situation.”