Joel Fuentes hasn’t worked with Tim Tebow very long but the two definitely will get a chance get to know each other this summer.
Fuentes is the second-year hitting coach for the Columbia Fireflies and will be working with Tebow this season as he begins his minor league career with the Mets’ South Atlantic League affiliate.
Sure, Fuentes has 12 other players to work with on the roster but none has the notoriety of Tebow.
“He is coming along,” Fuentes said. “We are trying to get his rhythm and trying to keep things simple.”
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Fuentes said his first impression of Tebow’s swing was it was a little stiff but nothing that couldn’t be corrected. He also has been impressed with Tebow’s power.
Fuentes said he won’t have to worry about Tebow’s determination to get better.
“He is a very smart kid and very athletic and strong. I don’t see anything that will push him back,” Fuentes said. “He will be ready for the challenge.”
“I feel good about the work we have been putting in and improving as much as I can,” Tebow said. “Not just in practice but using the entire day to improve.”
Fans will see Tebow swing the bat in a game Thursday night against Augusta. The game is sold out except for a few seats in picnic areas.
Tebow’s arrival has created a buzz for the Fireflies in their second season at Spirit Communications Park. Ticket sales are up and Tebow T-shirt jerseys are selling briskly. Fans can also purchase Fireflies’ replica jerseys with Tebow’s No. 15 on it.
While there is no doubt Tebow will have a big impact in the stands, some are skeptical on his performance on the field, including ESPN’s Keith Law. Tebow hit .194 in the Arizona Fall League and struck out 20 times in 62 at-bats. In spring training games with the Mets, he hit .148 in 27 at-bats.
“I think Tim Tebow should stick to announcing and never play baseball again,” Law told reporters in January. “He was the worst player I’ve ever seen in the 10 years I’ve been going to the Arizona Fall League.”
Others aren’t so quick to dismiss Tebow’s attempt to play baseball. Tebow supporters include Gary Sheffield and Washington Nationals infielder Daniel Murphy. Tebow said he worked with Sheffield during the winter. He also said he got help from Mets players Curtis Granderson and David Wright.
“With every single one of them, you want to pick up something that you can bring with you,” Tebow said.
Fireflies’ manager Jose Leger expects Tebow to be in the lineup each day in the outfield or designated hitter.
Who: Columbia Fireflies vs. Augusta GreenJackets
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where: Spirit Communications Park
Radio: 94.9 FM and 1230 AM
Pitching matchup: Honrol Gonzalez (Col) vs. TBA
5 Dates to Watch
April 6: Opening Day and Fireflies’ debut for Tim Tebow
May 6: Star Wars night
June 20: South Atlantic League All-Star game
July 3: Independence Day celebration
Aug. 21: Total Eclipse of the Park day