While the Grapefruit League officially begins play on Wednesday, the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers took the field Tuesday to play against college teams.
New York hosted Florida State and Heisman winner Jameis Winston at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., while Detroit defeated Florida Southern 12-0 at Joker Marchant Stadium, the Tigers spring home, in Lakeland, Fla. The Yankees defeated the ‘Noles 8-3.
Winston, who turned 20 on Jan. 6, the day he quarterbacked the Seminoles to a 41-34 win over the Auburn Tigers in the BCS Championship Game, didn’t start on Tuesday vs. the Yankees, but entered in the middle of the game.
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Winston, who pitches and plays outfield, took over in left field for the Seminoles the fifth inning. He saw his first at-bat in the top of the sixth.
Winston took two called strikes from Yankees minor-league pitcher Shane Greene before getting a loud cheer when shattering his bat on a grounder that went foul. On the next pitch, Winston hit a groundball to second.
Winston talked with his favorite player, Derek Jeter, calling the meeting "surreal." Winston said playing for the Yankees "would be a dream come true."
"I guess it feels like when I talk to little kids, how they feel sometimes," Winston said. "They’re speechless, and that’s how I was with Jeter."
Winston was selected out of high school in the 15th-round of the 2012 MLB Draft by Texas. The Rangers proposed that Winston play football for FSU, while working out one-on-one with instructors Texas would send to Tallahassee, Fla.
Winston opted not to sign with Texas, but his rights still belong to the Rangers until the 2015 Draft.
“I want to be better than Bo Jackson,” Winston said back in December. “Of course, I want to keep doing both (baseball and football). That’s my dream.”
So far this season, Winston has pitched in three games, yielding just one hit over four scoreless innings for FSU.
He played in the field twice, getting a hit in his only at-bat before Tuesday’s game vs. the Yankees.
"The favorite part of the day was just being out here," Winston said after the game. "Being around a bunch of big league guys, and they proved it. They beat us. …
"I’m just 20 years old. This is my life, man. I want to play both (baseball and football) as long as I can. I love both of them. I’ve got a strong passion for both."
Winston’s football coach, Jimbo Fisher, was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in front of an announced crowd of 7,708 that included a large number of FSU fans.