Posted at 9:12 PM on June 27, 2007
by David Zingler
Jason Tyner has been grinding it out for nearly a decade, trying – with mixed results – to avoid the long bus rides and discount motels of Triple A baseball. I sat down with the 30-year-old reserve outfielder before Wednesday’s game for a candid discussion...
ME: We are coming up on the halfway point of the season, how would you assess how things are going for you personally?
TYNER: Not bad, I am just trying to fill in when I’m needed. There will be streaks where you play a lot, there will be times you have to come off the bench. I don’t think we’ve played that great as a team, but I feel pretty good about where we’re at. We are only 5 games back and I think we are pretty fortunate to be in that situation.
ME: This is the first season since 2003 that you made the Opening Day roster, how exciting was that for you?
TYNER: It was a good feeling. You want to be in the big leagues anytime you can get up. I think 2002 was the first time I broke camp (with Tampa) and I’ve never spent a full season in the big leagues. As hard as it is to get here, I’ve learned it’s very hard to stay. You have to come to the field everyday ready to play and I feel like I’ve done that since I’ve gotten here. I feel good about what I’ve been able to accomplish and I am excited about what this team could potentially do.
ME: I looked closely at your career – you’ve had an interesting career – in 2004 you were basically in exile from the big leagues, playing for three different organizations – could you take me through that?
TYNER: That off-season I got claimed by the Rangers, so I went to spring training with them and got released out of spring training. I signed with the first team that called – the Braves – probably not a good situation in Triple A – and ended up finishing the year with the Indians Triple A team. I played well, but I just couldn’t get an opportunity.
I think earlier when I was young and didn’t have much of a clue about what I was doing, it seemed like I got a lot of opportunities. Later in my career, when I felt like I was becoming a much better baseball player, I couldn’t find an opportunity.
Terry Ryan called and signed me as a free agent and gave me that opportunity. It took a few years to get where I am right now, but I am definitely thankful that the Twins stuck with me and gave me this opportunity. I was thinking about finding another job, especially in 2004.
ME: Really, it was that bad?
TYNER: I am an older guy; I have a family. In the minor leagues you don’t make a whole lot of money and you’re away from your family a lot. It’s definitely a tough life.
ME: The Twins have a reputation for giving guys who are in your situation a shot, was that a major factor in signing with the team?
TYNER: It is a team – when they get in trouble – that is going to call somebody from their organization...Terry Ryan has been a very honest person. I’ve had some tough situations where teams haven’t quite been that honest with me. I just wanted to play somewhere that if I played well, I would be rewarded. I think the Twins are good about that.
ME: A lot has been made about your homerun drought. You’ve come close a few times this year – did you think any of them were going to go out or do you not worry about that and start running?
TYNER: I just run and if it goes out, it goes out. I hit a couple in the minor leagues and a couple I hit here I think would have gone out in most parks. The baggie is pretty high – this is definitely not the most homerun friendly park I will ever play in. I think I will get one. As my career has gone on, I think I’ve become a much better pull hitter...I like to think that it’s just a matter of time, but who knows?
ME: Are you going to try to get the ball if you do hit one out?
TYNER: Oh yeah, I think everyone’s got their first homerun ball. The guys like to give me a hard time about it, but once I hit one, nobody will care anymore. So, it kind of keeps the thing going.
ME: One last thing, I noticed your middle name “Renyt” (pronounced like rent) is Tyner spelled backwards, what’s the story behind that?
TYNER: My parents just wanted to name me that – no real story – they just thought it was cool. If I ever have a boy – I have two girls – I will probably give it to him...I remember when I was in school and everyone would find out my middle name was my last name spelled backwards, we’d spend about 30 minutes in class while everyone was turning their names around to see what it spelled. It’s kind of a quirky thing, but it’s a thing that gets a laugh and most people think it’s pretty cool.