By BILL WHITEHEAD
The Associated Press
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Tim Tebow has a habit of making a big splash in his debuts, and the newest St. Lucie Met delivered again Wednesday.
Playing in his first game for Advanced-A St. Lucie after being promoted Sunday from Columbia, Tebow homered in the second game of the Mets’ doubleheader and collected three hits overall at First Data Field.
With former Columbia teammate Michael Paez on first base in the bottom of the second inning of the nightcap, Tebow launched a towering ball just left of the batter’s eye in center field on a 92 mph 3-1 pitch from hard-throwing Palm Beach Cardinals right-hander Junior Fernandez.
Center fielder Blake Drake raced back and leaped to try and catch the drive, but the ball disappeared in front of the pitch clock, giving Tebow his second hit of the day and fourth homer this year in his first minor-league season.
Tebow homered on the first pitch he faced as a professional in an instructional league game on the back fields at the Mets’ complex last September.
He also homered in his first at-bat with the Columbia Fireflies in their South Atlantic League home game in April.
“I felt good,” said Tebow, explaining his play in big moments. “Honestly, I felt good the last couple of weeks in Columbia and tried to carry it over. Just put the bat on the ball and hit it hard.
“I was just thankful I could get one out tonight.”
As rewarding as the two-run shot was, Tebow wasn’t happy with third baseman Leobaldo Pina’s diving stop of a hard grounder with St. Lucie trailing 5-3 and no outs in the sixth inning of the second seven-inning contest and the former NFL quarterback representing the tying run.
“If I could’ve gotten that one by in the sixth, that would’ve been big. [Paez] would’ve been on third and I’d have been on first. We’d have had a chance to tie it up that inning,” Tebow said.
The Mets lost the second game 5-3 after dropping the opener 5-2 in front of 2,315 fans.
Tebow finished the two games 3 for 5 with a homer, two RBIs and a walk. He caught two flyballs while playing in left field in the second game.
Tebow’s first hit of the day broke an 0-for-11 stretch.