PORT ST. LUCIE — Tim Tebow made his first rookie mistake even before stepping into the batter's box.
The Mets newcomer walked behind home plate and took his practice swings near Boston's on-deck circle.
"I didn't know who that was back there. I thought it was the ball boy," AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello said.
Tebow's debut as a major-leaguer didn't go much better Wednesday.
The former Florida and NFL quarterback went 0-for-3, twice looking at strike three and also grounding into a double play with the bases loaded in a spring training game against the Red Sox.
Tebow did safely reach when he was hit by a pitch in the right shoulder. But his stay on base was brief — he got doubled off first on a line drive.
"It was a first day for me getting to compete. I'll learn a lot from it. It's kind of what I expected from a competition level," he said.
The 29-year-old batted eighth as the DH. Signed in the fall, he's in camp on a minor-league contract, hoping to make it as an outfielder. He's next scheduled to play for the Mets in a split-squad game Friday against Houston, and manager Terry Collins said Tebow would be in the field.
Tebow's day started out with a fun-filled morning stretch. He was loudly welcomed by slugger Yoenis Cespedes and kidded by Pittsburgh native Neil Walker — the second baseman barbed Tebow for once leading the Broncos over the Steelers in the playoffs. Tebow warmed up by swatting a few home runs in batting practice.
"With almost anything I do, I get a little nervous because I care about it, the outcome and my teammates," Tebow said. "But I'd also get nervous if I was going to talk to a high school football team before a game."
The third time up, Tebow was plunked in the right shoulder by a pitch by fellow University of Florida alum Brian Johnson.
"Come on, where's the love?" Tebow kidded. "No, it's fine."
"I've been good at taking hits most of my career. That might come easier than anything else," he said.
Boston manager Farrell said Tebow's attempt to make it in baseball, which he last played as a junior in high school before joining the Mets in August, is a bold ambition but reveals plenty about his character: "It says he's not afraid of failure, and that's great for any athlete."