Tebow records first hit of Grapefruit League play

Guest starring in Monday’s episode of the Tim Tebow show: the Miami Marlins.

Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner/former NFL quarterback/part-time college football analyst and reality TV host/New York Mets minor leaguer, was temporarily called up to big league camp Monday to play in a Grapefruit League game against the Marlins.

Wearing No. 97 and playing left field, Tebow made two catches — one of them a diving snare to rob Justin Bour — and went 1 for 3 with a strikeout and a single, his first major league hit of the spring.

“Thankfully it wasn’t a TV game, so I don’t have to see Tebow diving at my ball [for all of eternity],” Bour said. “I don’t have to watch that like the Bartolo Colon behind-the-back play [against me] that I see every day.”

Said Mets manager Terry Collins: “It’s not just Tim Tebow. Anybody who makes that catch, it’s a heck of a catch.”

Bour sent a long homer to right field in his second at-bat of the Marlins’ 6-4 loss.

“Tried to stay away from No. 97 out there,” Bour said.

Monday was Tebow’s third major league spring training game in five days, and Collins said he will see more time with the team in the coming days. Tebow is with the Mets on a minor league contract and has spent most of his this spring on the backfields at the Mets’ First Data Field complex.

A high school baseball standout at Nease High outside Jacksonville in the mid-2000s, Tebow embarked on a professional baseball career last summer. The Marlins attended his showcase but were not interested in signing him. The Mets were.

“If that’s what he wants to do, I think he’s going to put his mind to it and work hard,” said Marlins outfielder Matt den Dekker. “He’s proven he’s going to work hard at whatever he does, so it’s good to see that.”

den Dekker is more familiar than most with Tebowmania. The two attended the University of Florida together from 2006-10, though den Dekker said they didn’t hang out as much as they just crossed paths as varsity athletes, den Dekker playing baseball and Tebow football.

“It was four good years at Florida going to football games,” den Dekker said. “It was exciting to watch every time he had the ball.”

Out of UF, den Dekker was drafted by the Mets in 2010 and made his major league debut with them in 2013. Tebow was drafted by the Denver Broncos the same year and had an on-again, off-again NFL career through 2015.

Now Tebow, who did not speak with reporters after Monday’s game, is the most famous and polarizing minor leaguer in baseball.

“I get all the hoopla of who he is and what he’s done,” Collins said. “He’s handled himself tremendously in the clubhouse. Guys have taken to him. He just wants to be just part of the guys. I’m sure that’s why he didn’t want to talk today, because I asked him to be a part of the guys.”

The crowd of 6,031 treated him as more than just one of the guys Monday. They loved everything he did. Grounder to second base in the second inning? Cheers. Single to left in the fifth? More cheers. Catch of a routine fly ball in left in the sixth? Yes, cheers galore.

Collins, who said he has seen improvement from Tebow in the few weeks he’s been in camp, said it’s no surprise fans here and all over the world love them some Tebow.

“People cheer for good people,” Collins said. “This guy is a good human being, and you root for that. He’s an underdog right now. Probably for the first time in his whole life maybe, he’s an underdog. And people root for underdogs, they want him to do well. And we do too.”

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