Unlike some younger players he has dealt with, Columbia Fireflies manager Jose Leger isn’t worried about Tim Tebow’s mental toughness despite the struggles in his first year in minor league baseball.
Leger said Tebow’s background playing other professional sports has helped him deal with the ups and downs in his venture into professional baseball.
“He might be a little anxious at the plate trying to produce, but as far as handling failure, he has been there before,” Leger said. “He is not a guy you will talk to about mental approach. You will talk to him more about mechanics and about trusting his hands when he is hitting or getting his foot down, to mention a couple things.”
Tebow showed his ability to bounce back last week in a road trip at Hagerstown. After striking out four times, he went 1-for-4 the following game.
Tebow has had bright moments in his 48 games with the Columbia Fireflies, the low Class A affiliate of the New York Mets. He hit two homers in his first four games, but only one since then.
After getting the day off Wednesday, Tebow was back in the lineup Thursday and had two doubles, his first multi-extra base hit game. He began the day hitting .218 with three homers and 16 RBI in 165 at-bats. His average rose as high as .250 on May 10 but has been around .225 for the past couple weeks.
“It is a process. I just got over my first 100 at-bats, then the next 100, next 100 and continue to make progress. It is not something you can rush,” Tebow told reporters last month before a game at Lexington.
The Mets haven’t said what their plan for Tebow was for the rest of the year. A story in the New York Post cited an anonymous source who said Tebow would be promoted to Double-A Binghamton after the All-Star break, which will be June 19-20.
Fireflies hitting coach Joel Fuentes said the biggest thing for Tebow is to continue to get reps at the plate no matter if it is with the Fireflies or in advanced-A at St. Lucie or Double-A Binghamton.
“The more experience he gets, the better he is going to be,” Fuentes said. “The more he sees pitches, he is going to be fine.”
Fuentes said he has tried to keep things simple and that when Tebow gets into trouble, it is when he tries to do too much and hit the ball too far. He thinks Tebow’s biggest asset has been his ability to go to the opposite field, something he did Tuesday when he laced a double to left field.
Tebow has been at his best this year when he has been ahead of the count. He is hitting .277 with two homers and eight RBIs when he is ahead of the count. One of his biggest weaknesses has been against lefties, against whom he is batting .125 in 48 at-bats.
“Sometimes he gets underneath the ball too much and tries to hit far away like 372 feet or however big of a park we are in,” Fuentes said. “His strength is there, and he has a good idea with his approach. He takes and lays off good pitches to get him into a good hitting count, so that’s when he could do damage. If he continues to make little adjustments, he is going to be fine.”