Joe Blanton: “There’s zero percent chance I’ll start this year”

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Joe Blanton may come back from an elbow injury to pitch again this season, but it won’t be as a starter.

Blanton told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that “there’s a zero percent chance I’ll start this year” because “there’s just not enough time” to build up his arm strength after missing the past two months.

Even a late-season return to the bullpen is far from a sure thing at this point and Blanton may need offseason surgery to “transpose” the nerve in his elbow.

According to Zolecki the operation would knock him out for around five months, so if it looks like he won’t be able to contribute as a reliever down the stretch the Phillies may decide he’s better off going under the knife now. Blanton, who started just six games before being shut down, is owed $8.5 million in 2012.

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.