(Reuters) - Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow reported to spring training with Major League Baseball’s New York Mets on Monday, eager to continue his quest to make it in professional baseball.
Tebow, 29, a former Heisman Trophy winner as the most outstanding college football player who played in the NFL for three years before becoming a TV broadcaster, arrived in Port St. Lucie, Florida, with other highly-rated prospects.
The left-handed hitting outfielder, who last year played organized baseball for the first time since high school, had a .194 batting average with three doubles and 20 strikeouts in 62 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League.
“Obviously I knew that it was a big challenge — imagine picking up the sport after 12 years of not playing,” Tebow told reporters on Monday.
“Part of the challenge in it being so hard is part of why it’s so fun, and why it’s something I’m enjoying and loving, because it’s a hard game. It’s not an easy thing to do.
“Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things in sports, but I enjoy the process very much.”
Tebow is now trying to earn a spot on one of the Mets’ lower level minor league teams to continue the process.
Mets manager Terry Collins said he was cheering for Tebow.
“He’s a special person. He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s got a huge name in the sports world. And he’s in our organization trying to be a baseball player,” Collins said.
“I salute him for what he’s trying to do. It’s not going to be easy.”
While Tebow is considered a longshot to ever make a big league roster, the Mets plan to use him in Spring Training games once he grows comfortable in camp and believe he can have a positive impact on other prospects.
“I know he’s a tremendous competitor, and I know he’s a winner and that’s going to mean a lot in that big clubhouse full of young kids over there,” said Collins.
Tebow played three years in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets before his football career stalled. ESPN hired him as a football analyst in late 2013.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue