Tim Tebow is scheduled to showcase his baseball skills later today, but one Phillies coach isn't waiting to offer his take.
Bench coach Larry Bowa, not one to shy away from a strong opinion, isn't very optimistic about Tebow's chances of breaking into the league.
"Whoever's idea it is, they don't respect the game of baseball," Bowa said, according to Comcast SportsNet's Jim Salisbury. "It's a hard game. You don't come in at age 28 or 29."
Bowa isn't critical of Tebow as an athlete, but the Phillies coach doesn't see how the former Heisman Trophy winner, who hasn't played baseball since he was a junior in high school, expects to compete against major-league pitchers.
"How can you take 10 years off and all of the sudden be facing guys throwing 95, guys throwing sliders?" Bowa asked. One unidentified scout seemed to echo Bowa's comments, telling the New York Daily News that hitting "doesn't seem to be one of those skills that comes back after a long layoff."
The Phillies are reported to be one of a handful of teams set to watch Tebow as he attempts to woo scouts in a bid to return to a sport he hasn't played in 12 years. While most experts are skeptical that Tebow will be successful making the transition to baseball, at least one team already is reportedly offering the ex-Eagles quarterback a spot on the roster.
According to a report by Yahoo! Sports, five-time Venezuelan Professional Baseball League champion Aguilas del Zulia has offered Tebow a contract to play winter ball.
"He's a great talent," Aguilas general manager Luis Amaro, brother of former Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., told Yahoo! Sports. "He's an athlete. He's won the Heisman. He's won two national championships. I know baseball is a hard game, but he'll either adjust and show he's ready to play pro ball or not. I think it's low risk, high reward for Zulia."
Tebow has been spotted several times this month taking batting practice. Here's a glimpse of him working on his swing with former MLB catcher Chad Moeller:
Here's another look:
The last time Tebow picked up a bat competitively was as a student at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. An outfielder and pitcher, Tebow batted .494 and was an all-state player during his junior year.
He was nearly drafted by the Los Angeles Angels out of high school, according to the NFL, but Tebow opted for football because "he just had a bigger fire" for the sport, said Nease coach Greg "Boo" Mullins.
Many baseball insiders have criticized Tebow, slamming the former quarterback's bid to play baseball as a cheap publicity stunt. But former Mariners closer David Aardsma, who has thrown to Tebow twice in practice, has come away impressed.
"I think the publicity finds him more than he finds it," Aardsma said to the New York Daily News. "I feel like he really wants this. He's taking a pay cut to do this, unless he ends up in the big leagues. Working in television is pretty damn good publicity as it is."