Cardinals activate Mark Ellis, demote Pete Kozma to minors

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Mark Ellis is back from a spring training knee injury, so the Cardinals have activated the veteran second baseman from the disabled list. And to make room on the 25-man roster they demoted last season’s starting shortstop, Pete Kozma, to Triple-A.

Kozma’s impressive 26-game rookie stint with the Cardinals in 2012 had some people convinced he could be a long-term solution, but nothing in his minor-league track record suggested that was the case and sure enough he hit just .217 with one homer and a .548 OPS in 143 games last year. St. Louis made upgrading shortstop a priority this offseason and replaced him with Jhonny Peralta.

Ellis signed a one-year, $5.25 million deal with St. Louis as a free agent and it’ll be interesting to see how much playing time he takes from rookie Kolten Wong at second base. Wong hasn’t hit much through 13 games, but he’s done a nice job controlling the strike zone and brings a lot more speed to the table at age 23. And he hit .303 with an .835 OPS at Triple-A last season.

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.