Last season Mets manager Terry Collins was criticized for overusing rookie left-hander Scott Rice, who appeared in 73 of the team’s first 137 games before needing hernia surgery in early September.
This season Rice is struggling and Collins more or less admitted yesterday that he thinks it’s because of the huge 2013 workload, telling Adam Rubin of ESPN New York:
The guy pitched in 73 games last year. And a lot of times the next year, when you pitch in that many games for the first time in your life, your arm doesn’t bounce back real fast. It takes a little time. I’ve seen it where, unfortunately, you’ve got to go through it.
That’s sort of a “hey, what are you gonna do?” response to a question that I’m sure Rice at least feels probably deserves more thought. With that said, Rice was a 31-year-old rookie who finally made the big leagues after 14 years in the minors and, based on his lengthy track record there, it’s possible that he’s simply a borderline major leaguer. We may never know for sure, though, because Collins rode him so hard right away.
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.