Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tebow Will Attract a Crowd in Port St. Lucie; Heisman Winner Will Begin Instructional League Monday

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tebow Will Attract a Crowd in Port St. Lucie; Heisman Winner Will Begin Instructional League Monday

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino

Tim Tebow's new pro career begins in Port St. Lucie on Monday.

That's when the New York Mets open their fall instructional league drills with outfielder Tebow, 29, the featured performer as he makes his pro baseball debut.

The instructional league, which runs until Oct. 8, is usually a low-key affair with almost no media attention. It's mostly attended by lower-level young prospects, Class A players who missed significant playing time and others preparing for the Arizona Fall League.

Tebow's attempt to make the transition to baseball after not playing the sport in 11 years - since he was a junior at Nease High - is turning the Mets camp into a media event.

As soon as he arrives, the satellite trucks will be close behind. The public is invited to watch the workouts at the Tradition Field Complex for free and he will hold news conferences after the Monday and Tuesday drills.

"We're getting numerous phone calls a day," Paul Taglieri, the Mets' executive director of minor league facilities, told Treasure Coast newspapers. "The ticket office phone has been ringing and the office phones have been ringing and it's people wanting to know if they can come see him."

Tebow's first week will include four days of drills, mostly batting practice and fielding. The team will play some games. Then the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Florida will have Friday and Saturday off to return to his football analyst duties with the SEC Network.

When the Mets signed Tebow on Sept. 8 and agreed to pay him a $100,000 signing bonus - the maximum allowed before the team had to play a luxury tax - Mets general manager Sandy Alderson denied the move was a marketing ploy or publicity stunt.

"Aside from his age, this is a classic player development opportunity for us," Alderson said. "As an organization, we're going to provide that development opportunity for him.

"Tim has been a great athlete and he has demonstrated more than rudimentary baseball skills. We think with his commitment to success, it's an opportunity we think is worthwhile. We think he can be a baseball player."

It was reported that the Mets were the only team willing to let Tebow continue his TV career and Alderson brushed off the perception that it might mean Tebow isn't taking baseball seriously enough. …

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