Jake Westbrook, NCAA bracket aficionado

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westbrook posing.JPGJake Westbrook may have missed the entire 2009 season due to Tommy John surgery, but that doesn’t mean he’s off the map in Cleveland. 

The right-hander clinched a “Celebrity Bracket Challange” over the weekend hosted by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, beating out local VIPs like the Browns’ Josh Cribbs, the Cavaliers’ Mo Williams and Kosta Koufos, a former Ohio State Basketball player.  Westbrook’s bracket has only one Final Four team intact — West Virginia — but that’s enough to win most bracket challenges in what has been a wild NCAA Tournament.

For reference: Duke, Butler and Michigan State will be joining the Mountaineers in Indianapolis next weekend for college basketball’s biggest prize.

Westbrook’s prize for winning the Plain-Dealer’s bracket pick ’em?  Well, we’re not sure.  But the right-hander has compiled a 2-0 record and a 4.86 ERA in 16 2/3 innings of Cactus League play this spring and has recaptured his spot atop the Tribe’s starting rotation.  That’s gotta be worth something.

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.