PORT ST. LUCIE (Fla.) – Tim Tebow knows how to make a good first impression.
The 29-year-old former quarterback, who hit a home run in his first at-bat of the Instructional League in the fall and repeated the feat with the Carolina Fireflies in low-A ball earlier this season, blasted a two-run shot in his first day with the St. Lucie Mets on Wednesday.
“I don’t know. I honestly felt good the last few weeks in Columbia and just tried to carry it over and put the bat on the ball and hit it hard,” Tebow said. “I was thankful I could get one out tonight.”
In his first at-bat of the second game of a double header with the Palm Beach Cardinals, Tebow sent a 92-mph pitch from Junior Fernandez over the left-center wall between the batter’s eye and the scoreboard. Cardinals center fielder Blake Drake made a leaping attempt at the wall, but was unable to make the home run-saving catch.
“The kid threw very hard,” Tebow said of Fernandez. “Going in, the scouting report is he’s between 95 and 99. He started out my first pitch changeup over the top, really good pitch. Then he threw me some fastballs but he was a little wild on them so he got 3-1 and I was hoping he was going to give me a fastball.
"He did and I tried to make the most of it.”
The crowd of 2,315 roared when the ball was hit and got even louder once it realized the ball cleared the fence. In an bit of odd trivia, Tebow now has more minor league home runs (four) than Michael Jordan (three) did.
Tebow was a combined 3-for-5 with the home run, two RBI and a walk in the doubleheader.
St. Lucie dropped both games, losing 5-2 in the first game and 5-3 in the nightcap.
Tebow was 1 for 2 with a walk in the first game. His single to lead off the bottom of the fifth – a chopper up the middle – drew an enthusiastic response from the sparse crowd at that time. They cheered his walk and grumbled when Tebow was called out on strikes in his first at-bat.
Tebow singled up the middle – a hard hit that narrowly missed Fernandez – in his second at-bat of the second game. Cardinals third baseman Leobaldo Pina made a diving stop on a well hit ball in the sixth to rob Tebow of what would have been his third hit – and likely third RBI – of the game. Tebow battled during the at-bat, which lasted nine pitches.
“If could have got that one in the sixth by (Pina) that would have been big,” Tebow said. “(Michael Paez) would have been on third, I would been on first and we would have had a chance to probably tie it up in that inning, so that was kind of frustrating. Disappointing to walk away with the loss after that game when you feel like as a team we played pretty well. But we can grow from it and learn.”
St. Lucie will host Palm Beach again Thursday at First Data Field.
Joe Santucci, USA Today Sports