Jeremy Hellickson is scheduled to come off the disabled list and rejoin the Rays’ rotation on June 27, but the right-hander’s second minor-league rehab start was sort of a mess yesterday.
Hellickson, who’s coming back from arthroscopic elbow surgery in February, lasted just 2.1 innings while allowing four runs on six hits at Triple-A. He threw just 55 pitches, so regardless of the quality of his performance the Rays may decide he needs more than one additional start before being fully stretched out.
Hellickson won the Rookie of the Year award in 2011 and followed that up with a similarly strong 2012 season, but last year he posted a 5.17 ERA in 174 innings while opponents slugged .450 off him.
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.