SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – With professional football not working out, Tim Tebow is going to give baseball a try.
The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL first-round draft pick plans to hold a workout for Major League Baseball teams to scout him. Tebow last played organized baseball in high school.
ESPN first reported the news.
Agent Brodie Van Wagenen, the co-head of CAA Baseball, said in a statement that the workout is not a publicity stunt.
“His work ethic is unprecedented, and his passion for the game is infectious. He knows the challenges that lie ahead of him given his age and experience, but he is determined to achieve his goal of playing in the Major Leagues,” Van Wagenen said.
Tebow, who turns 29 on Sunday, has been training in Scottsdale with former major league catcher Chad Moeller.
“I am beyond impressed with Tim’s athleticism and swing, and it goes without saying that he has shown a high level of discipline and strong work ethic,” Moeller said in a statement released by CAA. “I see bat speed and power and real baseball talent. I truly believe Tim has the skill set and potential to achieve his goal of playing in the Major Leagues, and based on what I have seen over the past two months, it could happen relatively quickly.”
Former All-Star slugger Gary Sheffield came to bat for Tebow on Twitter.
“I spent time with Tim Tebow in the cages,” Sheffield wrote, “he’s a NATURAL. Tim has IT.”
Tebow won the Heisman and two national championships with the University of Florida and was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos in in 2010. He has not played in the NFL since 2012 with the New York Jets. He went to training camp with the New England Patriots in 2013 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 but was cut before the season each time.
Tebow last played competitive baseball more than a decade ago, hitting .494 as a junior for Nease High School in Florida. He didn’t play baseball as a senior, concentrating instead on football.
“He was a six-tool player,” Tebow’s high school coach Greg “Boo” Mullins said in a 2013 interview with The Sporting News. “He has arm strength, he could run, he could hit, he could hit for power, he could field, but his character made him that six-tool guy.”
John Fox, the Chicago Bears coach who coached at Denver when Tebow played there, said “good for him” when told of his decision to try baseball.
“He was very competitive,” Fox said Tuesday, “a super, super young person, very dedicated to life, a guy that I was very impressed with that took us to the playoffs and won a playoff game.”
ESPN reported that Tebow will work out for major league teams later this month.
Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona managed Michael Jordan when the basketball star did a stint in the minors with the Birmingham Barons in Double-A in 1994.
“It’s a little harder jump, though, than I think people realize,” Francona said. “Even the lower A-ball, the lower rungs of professional baseball, are still pretty good baseball.”
New York Jets receiver Eric Decker, who was Tebow’s teammate in Denver and who played baseball at the University of Minnesota, said he doesn’t know if Tebow will be good enough, but he is confident people will pay to find out.
“I don’t know what the chances are (of Tebow being successful), but if I was a Double-A or a Single-A team, I’m signing him to get the ticket sales up. I’m sure he’ll have success in that field,” Decker said.
Tebow already has drawn the attention of minor league teams that always are on the lookout for a successful promotion.
The Schaumburg, Illinois, Boomers of the Independent Frontier League issued a news release saying they have offered Tebow a contract .
“We’re looking for an athletic outfielder who can bring some leadership and competitiveness into the clubhouse,” Boomers manager Jamie Bennett said. “Tebow brings all of those characteristics and then some. I think he’d be a great fit here in Schaumburg.”
The Fort Myers Miracle, a Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, quickly planned a “What Would Tim Tebow Do?” night on Thursday.
As for the majors, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was asked if the team had any interest in Tebow.
“Are you insinuating we need a Hail Mary at this point?” he said.
AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker in New York; AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo in New York; and AP sports writers Dennis Waszak in Florham Park, New Jersey, Stephen Whyno in Washington, and Andrew Seligman in Bourbonnais, Illinois, contributed to this report.