American League manager Ron Washington officially announced Justin Verlander as his starter at today’s press and also revealed his lineup, which features Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter leading off, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton batting third, and Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista cleaning up:
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Robinson Cano, 2B
3. Josh Hamilton, LF
4. Jose Bautista, RF
5. Prince Fielder, 1B
6. Adrian Beltre, 3B
7. David Ortiz, DH
8. Mike Napoli, C
9. Curtis Granderson, CF
Washington also managed the AL team in last year’s All-Star game and batted Bautista cleanup then too, although he had Curtis Granderson leading off instead of batting ninth, Hamilton hitting fifth instead of third, and Robinson Cano hitting eighth instead of second.
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.