CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.
Since then, the hits haven't been coming for the 2007 UF Heisman winner. He's just 6-for-58 in his last 17 games, including 0-for-4 against the Clearwater Threshers on Wednesday at Spectrum Field.
Still, the fans keep coming out. After garnering nearly 14,000 spectators combined on Monday and Tuesday, the Threshers drew 3,326 for their 6-4 win Wednesday, with many there in Tebow attire.
When Scott Caterson, 50, of Dunedin, heard in June that the Mets were promoting Tebow to the Florida State League, he bought tickets for all four games at Spectrum Field. He showed up Wednesday, in his words, "to root on Tim Tebow and his crazy, impossible dream."
Caterson has kept up his faith in Tebow despite the slump. He said he's confident in the St. Lucie staff to help him solve it.
"Baseball is a game of slumps," he said. "He's got new coaches here — I'm sure he's going to work it out."
Tebow has been in the lineup pretty consistently despite his slump. After St. Lucie manager Chad Kreuter gave him a day off Thursday against the Tampa Yankees, he's started all six games since then, manning leftfield and playing designated hitter.
He's had trouble putting the ball in play during his cold streak. In his past 63 plate appearances, he's struck out 21 times, once out of every three chances.
He went down on strikes in each of his first two at-bats Wednesday. The second one featured a called strike three that Tebow took issue with; he turned and exchanged words with the umpire, although he maintained his composure.
Paula Diamond was a little unsure about the call. From her vantage point near the Threshers dugout, the 70-year-old Largo resident said she thought it "was way inside."
As a Rays fan, she said she's very familiar with the ups and downs of baseball (Tampa Bay is currently experiencing the latter, with 20 runs in its past 12 games after Wednesday's loss in Toronto).
"Guys can be so hot, and then all of a sudden, nothing," she said.
Paula's husband, Ron, emphasized that Tebow's talent is still there underneath the slump. He's confident the former Gators quarterback can snap out of it.
"He's just got to settle down and play his game," he said. "It should come back. He's got the ability."