NEW YORK — Tim Tebow will test his baseball skills against some of the game’s premier prospects.
The New York Mets are sending Tebow to the Arizona Fall League after cutting short their instructional league Tuesday with Hurricane Matthew approaching Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott already has declared a state of emergency.
Tebow, the former NFL quarterback and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, is scheduled to report Sunday and play for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Opening day is next Tuesday in the Arizona Fall League, a competitive proving ground designed to enhance the development of promising minor leaguers.
In a statement released by the Mets, Tebow called it “a great opportunity.”
Among his teammates will be New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird, who hit 11 homers in 46 major league games as a rookie last year. Bird sat sat out this season following shoulder surgery.
“We want Tim to play in more games to continue developing his skills on the field while facing advanced competition,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said.
Tebow’s manager in the AFL will be Mets first base coach Tom Goodwin, once his duties with the big league club are done. New York worked out Tuesday at Citi Field to prep for Wednesday night’s NL wild-card game against the San Francisco Giants.
Tebow embarked on a professional baseball career last month when he signed a minor league contract with the Mets. The 29-year-old outfielder was sent to their instructional league in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and homered on the first pitch he saw in a competitive game, a 90 mph fastball.
“Working in the instructional league has been a lot of fun and productive,” Tebow said. “We worked hard and I was able to see a lot of pitches and work on different things. There was great coaching and I tried to improve every day. I plan to use the Fall League as an opportunity to improve. It’s a blessing and a great opportunity.”
SAME AS YOU
Mets pitcher Steven Matz and first-round draft pick Anthony Kay, left-handers who went to the same high school on Long Island, both had elbow surgery Tuesday.
Matz had an arthroscopic procedure at the Hospital for Special Surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow. He also was given a platelet-rich plasma injection in his pitching shoulder and is expected to be fully recovered for spring training, the team said.
Matz made his final start of the season Aug. 14 and has been sidelined since by tightness in his left shoulder. Before that, he had been pitching with the bone spurs.
The rookie finished 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA in 22 starts.
Kay had Tommy John surgery at the same hospital and likely will miss next season. He was chosen with the 31st overall pick in June out of UConn and signed for $1.1 million, which was $872,100 below slot value.
Matz also had Tommy John surgery before beginning his professional career. He was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft out of Ward Melville High School but injury setbacks delayed his pro debut until 2012.