Tim Tebow Adjusts To Double-A

Image credit: Tim Tebow #15 of the Eastern Division All-Stars answers questions from the media before the 2018 Eastern League All Star Game at Arm & Hammer Park on July 11, 2018 in Trenton, New Jersey. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

TRENTON, N.J.—Besides a six-hour bus ride from Binghamton, N.Y. to Portland, Maine, Tim Tebow has had to make one major adjustment in his first season at Double-A.
“On some of the other levels, they’ll (pitchers) try to have a plan, but they’ll get away from it, go back to what they feel comfortable with,” said Tebow, who split time between low Class A Columbia and high Class A St. Lucie last year in the Mets’ chain. “I think here (Double-A), you have more teams and series where they really try to stick to how they’re pitching you.

“In Single-A, there’s more guys with high velo (and little else). Here, you face so many guys who know where the ball is going and are on the verge of pitching in the bigs.
“You’ll see that there might be a team that throws you a certain way, and it works and they stay on it or it’s not working and they adjust and you have to adjust. I think you learn how to understand when you’re not doing something well, when you need to adjust something, when you need to continue to make more adjustments after they’ve adjusted.”
And about that bus ride?
“It felt like 8 hours,” Tebow said.
Tebow batted ninth as the DH for the Eastern Division in Wednesday’s Eastern League all-star game and went 1-for-4 with an opposite-field double. He had a chance to give his team the lead in the seventh inning, but with runners on first and second and one out he popped out to left on the first pitch.
Prior to the game, hundreds of fans waited close to an hour for his autograph. His No. 15 shirt was the only all-star player jersey available for sale at the game.

The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback turned baseball player is hitting .241/.319/.362 in 76 games for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. He’s smacked five home runs with 33 RBIs.

Tebow has committed just one error in 75 chances in left field.
He’s been on a bit of a tear heading into Wednesday’s game. In his previous 10 games, Tebow is hitting .353 (12-for-34).

”Last year, my first year in baseball, I still didn’t know how my body would react to playing every day. One-hundred fifty games in a row instead of getting ready for 16 football games. I didn’t know what to expect.”

The oldest player in the all-star game at 30, he’s struck out 35 percent of his at-bats (95 times), including six occasions in eight at bats against Erie’s Kyle Funkhouser, who was representing the Western Division on Wednesday.

“When you’re scouting a guy, you’re really not looking at stats or the name,” Funkhouser admitted. “You don’t want to psych yourself up and not make the situation more than it is. They (Binghamton) had some big bats in their lineup and a couple of those guys (Jeff McNeil and Peter Alonso) that went up to Triple-A. If anything, we were focused more on those guys.

“He (Tebow) is obviously a big name with a lot of juice, but I was just trying to make pitches. He’s pretty patient, but for most of the at-bats I was able to get ahead of him and finish him off pretty quick.”

It didn’t really hit Funkhouser that he struck out Tebow until after the first time he faced him.

“When you’re out there you don’t really realize it,” Funkhouser said of his duel with the former NFL quarterback. “Then after the game my brother texted me. That was pretty cool.”

A successful June, when he hit .301 with an on-base percentage of .338, propelled Tebow into a starting spot in the all-star game.  

“That was never a thought process for me,” he said of getting selected for the game. “For me, it was about all the things I’ve been working on . . . the fundamentals and to stay focused with the process since I started this endeavor.”

Bernie Williams, a five-time all-star in a 16-year career with the Yankees, understands the scrutiny Tebow is under.

“What makes it a little harder for him (Tebow) is every move that he makes is covered by everybody,” Williams said. “I don’t think he has an opportunity like every other player at his level to grow through his pains and make adjustments and struggle.

“Everyone is going to expect him to be the superstar he was at the college level in football and baseball is going to take more time.”

Tebow evaded the possibility of a September callup to the Mets, where he is not on the 40-man roster.

“I’m just working on seeing more pitches and having a plan when I come up to bat. I can’t worry about the hypotheticals or the what-if’s. I don’t think that’s a place an athlete can live. I know as a baseball player I have a lot of room to grow and I think I’m getting better every day and every series.”

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