Phillies

Tim Tebow falls flat in spring training debut with Mets

Tim Tebow falls flat in spring training debut with Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Tim Tebow made his first rookie mistake even before stepping into the batter's box.

The New York Mets newcomer walked behind home plate and took his practice swings near Boston's on-deck circle.

"I didn't know who that was back there. I thought it was the ball boy," AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello said.

Tebow's debut as a big leaguer didn't go much better Wednesday.

The former NFL quarterback went 0 for 3, twice looking at strike three and also grounding into a double play with the bases loaded in a spring training exhibition against the Red Sox.

Tebow did safely reach when he was hit by a pitch in the right shoulder. But his stay on base was brief -- he got doubled off first on a line drive.

"It was a first day for me getting to compete. I'll learn a lot from it. It's kind of what I expected from a competition level," he said.

The 29-year-old Tebow batted eighth as the designated hitter. Signed last fall, he's in camp on a minor league contract, hoping to make it as an outfielder. He's next scheduled to play for the Mets in a split-squad game Friday against Houston, and manager Terry Collins said Tebow would be in the field.

Tebow's day started out with a fun-filled morning stretch. He was loudly welcomed by slugger Yoenis Cespedes and kidded by Pittsburgh native Neil Walker -- the second baseman barbed Tebow for once leading the Denver Broncos over the Steelers in the playoffs. Tebow warmed up by swatting a few home runs in batting practice.

To say Tebow's first game was a success, however, would be a stretch. He did, at least, get to slap high-fives on the field after an 8-7 win in front of 6,538 fans.

"With almost anything I do, I get a little nervous because I care about it, the outcome and my teammates," Tebow said. "But I'd also get nervous if I was going to talk to a high school football team before a game."

Tebow was set to lead off the third inning for his first at-bat. The lefty hitter emerged from the Mets' dugout on the third base side and crossed over to the Boston side, drifting toward the Red Sox on-deck circle and inching his way into Porcello's view.

"I thought you walked around because you're a left-hander. I found out you don't do that," he said.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner then faced Porcello, prompting some to figure out another matchup between Heisman and Cy Young winners -- Bo Jackson vs. Frank Viola, for example.

Tebow drew a nice cheer when he stepped in wearing a No. 97 jersey with no name on the back. He swung late on a fastball to fall behind and was caught looking at a 92 mph heater on a 1-2 count. He had a friendly word and smile for plate umpire Ryan Additon after being called out.

Tebow came up next with the bases loaded and bounced into a double play against Noe Ramirez. A run scored on the grounder, but Tebow didn't get credit for an RBI.

The third time up, Tebow was plunked in the right shoulder by a pitch by fellow University of Florida alum Brian Johnson.

"Come on, where's the love?" Tebow kidded. "No, it's fine."

"I've been good at taking hits most of my career. That might come easier than anything else," he said.

L.J. Mazzilli followed with a line drive to second baseman Deven Marrero, whose throw to first beat Tebow. Righty reliever Brandon Workman fanned Tebow on three pitches in the eighth, getting him looking with a curveball.

Before the game, Boston manager John Farrell watched from the top step of the visitors' dugout as Tebow hit some long drives, the majority the opposite way at First Data Field.

Farrell said Tebow's attempt to make it in baseball, which he last played as a junior in high school before joining the Mets last August, is a bold ambition but reveals plenty about his character.

"It says he's not afraid of failure, and that's great for any athlete," Farrell said. "Athletes are all going to become vulnerable in their performance at some point, and for who's been such a high profile in another sport come in and say, `Hey, I'm willing to take a run at this,' I think it's a pretty cool thing."

"When you look at the raw power in BP, it's pretty evident. It says you've got some pretty good hand-eye coordination. (Baseball's) hard for a guy who plays every year," he said. "When you have that kind of gap, I think it's a window into the mindset that anything is possible. Why not take a run with it?"

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.