The Orioles are playing Nelson Cruz in center field today

17 Comments

Well, this is fantastic.

The Orioles will be a must-watch in their Grapefruit League game against the Yankees this afternoon, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun notes that Nelson Cruz will make the start in center field. Oh, but that’s not all. He’ll be flanked by Delmon Young in right field and Steve Pearce in left. Today’s starter, Chris Tillman, has a 41.6 percent fly ball rate for his career, so it should be fun out there.

Don’t worry, Orioles fans (and pitchers), it would take some unique circumstances to see this sort of defensive alignment during the regular season. This is mostly a matter of the team not having enough bodies around, as Nick Markakis is banged up, Adam Jones is away from the team following the birth of his son, and David Lough isn’t available. Enjoy it while you can.

Tim Tebow homers in spring training game

Tim Tebow
Mark Brown/Getty Images
8 Comments

Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow hit a two-run home run during Tuesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. It’s his first spring training home run since beginning his professional baseball career in late 2016.

Tebow, 32, is, of course, a former college football legend. He had a much-anticipated NFL career that ended up brief and disappointing, prompting a change of vocation. Tebow was passable with Double-A Binghamton in 2018, but the Mets promoted him to Triple-A for the 2019 season anyway. That was a mistake. Through 264 plate appearances, Tebow hit .163/.240/.255, ranking as the worst hitter in the minor leagues.

Tebow also walked along with the homer in three plate appearances on Tuesday. While it’s a solid early showing, Tebow participating with the other big leaguers or soon-to-be big leaguers in spring training is something of a sideshow. If he were a regular ballplayer working his way up the ranks, he likely would have been cut after last season. He certainly wouldn’t have been given an invitation to big league camp the next year.

There are aspects of the Tebow situation to respect: that he’s athletic and dedicated enough to attempt a professional career in another sport, for example. He moves tickets and merchandise. But one can’t help but wonder about the roster spot he’s holding that would otherwise go to a more deserving player.