Trystan Magnuson keeps the faith
* Trystan Magnuson is no longer a big leaguer with the Oakland A’s, he’s coming back from arm problems and yet he’s one of the more upbeat men in uniform in Dunedin due to his religion ….
Alexis’ extended trip to extended spring training and class-A Dunedin:
At Dunedin …. RHP Trystan Magnuson (Vancouver, BC), OF Marcus Knecht (North York, Ont.) … Manager Mike Redmond on OFs Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) and Knecht … RHP Tom Robson (Ladner, Ont.), OF Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.), RHP Nick Purdy (Grafton, Ont.), RHP Brandon Kaye (Langley, BC), RHP Les Williams (Scarborough, Ont.), LHP Shane Davis (Belmont, Ont.), RHP Zach Breault (Amherstburg, Ont.), SS Justin Atkinson (Surrey, BC) and what RHP Tom Robson (Ladner, BC) would tell LHP Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.).
RHP Jesen Dygestile-Therrien (Montreal, Que.).
By Alexis Brudnicki
DUNEDIN, Fla. — The faith is strong in this one.
He’s impressively optimistic, he’s always smiling and it would appear as though nothing ever fazes him. This is all during a year in which he’s had one of the toughest times in his baseball career.
So what keeps Trystan Magnuson so positive?
It’s his sense of faith.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s not trying to preach to anyone who doesn’t want to listen. He’s not trying to make believers out of nonbelievers. He’s not even likely to talk about his faith much unless specifically asked a question in that general direction.
But I asked.
Sitting with the 6-foot-7 rehabbing right-hander in a classroom at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, talking about how tough the last year has been for him, it was hard to match the words coming out of his mouth with the grin that they were behind.
I wanted to know how the 27-year-old could be so happy.
Magnuson’s first big league season came to a halt when he injured his throwing shoulder. His time ended with the Oakland Athletics on that note, as they later released him from the organization.
He couldn’t throw a baseball from the end of August to the middle of January; something that I have come to understand is the worst possible punishment for a baseball player.
Things looked up a little bit when he found out that he didn’t need surgery, putting the pitcher well ahead of any schedule that he would have had to face if he had gone under the knife. He was picked up by the organization that he started his career with, the Toronto Blue Jays. They are also his childhood-favourite team because he grew up in Winnipeg listening to the radio broadcasts.
Then this season started. Magnuson’s progress wasn’t following the speedy plan that any player would hope for. He wasn’t pitching the way that he was used to pitching.
So I asked him what helped him get through all of the ups and downs.
What’s left the never-ending smile on Magnuson’s face?
“I don’t want to be cliché about this but it all comes back to my faith,” he said. “I don’t want to shove it down anybody’s throats, but I also want to tell them exactly what I’m thinking, whether it’s on the baseball field or in my heart and mind and my faith.
“I really think that it’s amazing how we can get put on a pedestal as athletes when … what if you’re the best at Hungry Hungry Hippos or some game? What if you’re the world’s best at Connect Four but nobody cares?
“The world itself kind of chooses to pick what’s important. Who’s to say that I’m any more valuable than anybody else? I think that God gave me some talent to throw a baseball and that’s pretty cool but it’s only cool because everybody else thinks it’s cool. Over here if you talk about cricket or something like that, nobody cares because we’re in America and nobody plays cricket.
“A lot of that is that my importance and my worth are based upon what God thinks of them and not what the world thinks.”
I continued to ask the Vancouver-born righty about his beliefs because I wanted to know more. I wanted to learn. I didn’t want to remain ignorant, though Magnuson’s beliefs are his and mine are mine. But his positive attitude and demeanour intrigued me. I wanted to know what he knew that I didn’t.
“It doesn’t matter how successful I am or how much money I make or what other people think of me or how tall or short I am or whatever I’m doing, because that doesn’t define my worth,” Magnuson said. “It’s what God defines.
“That meant a lot to me this year, especially because of everything that I’m going through. It’s good sometimes to get everything you want because then you’re still left empty. Sometimes the best thing that can happen is to have everything taken away because then you realize what’s really important.”
When I heard the 56th overall pick in the 2007 draft talk about the lack of emphasis that he tries to place on money, it was hard for me to understand. It always seemed to me that part of the dream of pro ball is to bring in a big league paycheque.
“If you ask about how you can be positive all the time, it’s when your life isn’t defined by this dream of a few things for this short life,” he said. “You see guys play and it’s all about that contract and the arbitration year and all the stuff that I’d never heard about. I’d never even thought about it but you get up [to the major leagues] and it’s like, what are your rights as a player? What can you get from the team? You try and get the most money. It’s all about what contracts do you have? How can you get all the gear and the endorsements and stuff?
“It’s all about building up you and your life and a lot of times, guys aren’t happy. They’re not happy and especially when things go bad, then whatever they think they could have had, they’re losing. It makes them really sad.”
Whatever makes baseball players sad is certainly not something that the tall Canadian could possibly be concerned with.
“He’s a positive guy,” Dunedin Blue Jays manager Mike Redmond said. “The thing is, with guys like that, everybody wants them to be successful and everybody pulls for him. Nobody likes to see a guy struggle or have it not work the way they want it to work. He’ll get that arm strength back. It’s going to happen. It’s a matter of tim
“And I’m fully confident that he’s going to stay positive and not get frustrated. I don’t see him as a guy that has many bad days.”
Though Magnuson projected confidence and happiness beamed through his pearly whites in that classroom, his smile seemingly grew impossibly wider when he found out what his temporary manager thought of him.
“Sometimes you don’t know how you’re perceived by other people,” he said. “And to know that’s the way I’m approaching my job and how I’m going about things, it’s really reassuring.”