Reds manager Dusty Baker declined to start Billy Hamilton again Monday after his three-hit day Sunday, instead reserving him for pinch-running duties. When he did go to him in the eighth, it produced a memorable sequence.
Hamilton pinch-ran for Ryan Hanigan with two outs and none on in a tie game in the bottom of the eighth versus the Mets. Being that there were two outs, Hamilton wasted absolutely no time in trying to take second. He didn’t fool the Mets, either. Or not some of them, anyway. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud called for the pitchout on the first pitch with Frank Francisco on the mound. Francisco, apparently having his signals crossed, threw a fastball right down main street as Hamilton was taking off. D’Arnaud couldn’t snare it and Chris Heisey let the pitch go, so it ended up hitting umpire Tony Randazzo right in the chest.
That was fortunate, because Hamilton probably would have ended up on third had the ball missed the ump or deflected off to the side. As is, he was left stranded on second after Heisey struck out. Fortunately for the Mets, that marked the end of his night in the tie game.
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.