Duchscherer hopes to be ready by Opening Day

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duchscherer.jpgJustin Duchscherer didn’t throw a pitch last season and is making his way back from a complex procedure that burned the nerve endings around his
sacroiliac joint.  And yet, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea, the right-hander is still optimistic about being fully healthy for baseball’s opening week.

“The Duke of Hurl” will throw off a mound for the first time this week.  He’s hoping to lift his pitch count to 75 by the end of spring.

“The way I feel about my ability to compete, if I can throw 75 pitches
in a game here, when it’s time to turn the lights on for the season to
start, I can go 100,” said the righty.

Duchscherer, 32, was 10-8 with a 2.54 ERA and 1.00 WHIP back in 2008, his first full season as a starter.  If he can get back to what worked two years ago, it could be an interesting summer in Oakland.  Same goes for veteran right-hander Ben Sheets.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.