COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former South Carolina outfielder Gene Cone had four walks on Thursday night, but who’s counting? Tim Tebow.
Tebow corrected Columbia Fireflies manager Jose Leger when a reporter asked about the decision to bat Cone in the leadoff spot during the season opener against Augusta on Thursday.
“I think you can tell why we led him off,” Leger said, “Because the guy walked, how many times, three?”
“Four,” Tebow said
“Four,” Tebow said.
“Yeah, so, four times. He’s very patient at the plate. Having a guy like that at the top of the lineup, it’s just great,” Leger said.
Cone, who was also born and raised in Columbia, scored 2 of the Fireflies runs in their 14-7 win.
“I was so happy for Gene (Thursday), though,” Tebow said. “Getting four walks, being patient with his discipline. His strike zone was awesome. We were so happy for him. I think that’s just another example for our team. We’re just cheering each other on, regardless of the score, situation, and he’s one example of that.
“In fact, when we were making a pitching change, we were in the outfield talking and I was like, ‘Watch, you’re going to go back up to the plate, you’re going to get two strikes and you’re going to get another walk.’ And it happened again.
“We have fun out there and he’s a big reason.”
Before batting practice on Thursday, Tebow spent more than an hour in the cage with hitting coach Joel Fuentes. They focused on hitting fastballs on the outside part of the plate to the opposite field.
That’s the pitch Tebow took over the wall during his first at-bat in minor league baseball.
“It’s just going back to your approach, your mindset, your philosophy and your game plan, then when you get those opportunities, you try to make the most of it,” Tebow said. “It definitely felt good, because that was something we worked on so much (Thursday).”
Toward the end of the post-game availability session with reporters, Tebow was asked what he learned about himself during his 1-for-5 performance.
“That’s a really good question,” he said, before pausing. “I don’t know that I necessarily learned anything. I think (I) was able to reiterate certain things about hard work, about it’s never as good as it seems, it’s never as bad as it seems, right?
“You go from a first at-bat home run, then (a) strikeout. It’s about continuing the mindset. Go to work and don’t get caught up in the little things. Don’t get caught up in whatever people are saying whenever I leave here and on social media, whatever y’all write. No offense, but I won’t read it.
“I’ll wake up and I’ll go train again (Friday). It’s something I learned very early on at the University of Florida, because I’m someone that’s very emotional, passionate and I care a lot about every single thing that I do. So, for me, I’ve got to harness that the right way, and that’s having my boundaries and my guidelines and block everything out and go to work and do what I love.”