Well, it wasn’t a trade or big-name signing that changed the Boston Red Sox spring training roster, today.
News from Tampa, Florida has a name that was not on any MLB radar, this spring, until he was cut from his football team. Brandon Magee was cut from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League on Wednesday morning. ESPN NFL‘s Pat Yasinskas reported that “Magee told the Tampa Bay Times he was headed to spring training at the Boston Red Sox’s minor league facility in Fort Myers, Florida.”
Magee’s journey to this point was also covered by CBS Boston: “Magee, a four-year member of both the varsity baseball and football teams at Centennial High School in Corona, California, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays out of high school, but chose to play football at Arizona State instead. He recorded 231 tackles during his career with the Sun Devils, and also helped the ASU baseball team reach the College World Series twice.” The Oakland Athletics drafted his rights in the 2011 Amateur Draft in the 21st round. As he continued choosing football over baseball, Magee’s rights were drafted again in 2012, in the 23rd round, this time by the Red Sox.
Magee’s NFL experience started in 2013, by signing as an undrafted player by the Dallas Cowboys. After being cut after training camp, he signed with the Buccaneers last season. Yet, it was only after he had already “worked out with the Red Sox in extended spring training as an outfielder. Magee had six special teams tackles for the Buccaneers last season before landing on the injured reserve in December.”
One thing is certain, which anything being certain is very rare in baseball: Magee will likely be one, if not the fittest players in spring training. Today’s Boston Red Sox Twitter account captured pictures of drills being performed:
Considering all of the hoopla over Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval and his weight, as well as designated hitter David Ortiz’ issues with dehydration being pumped through the media, the Red Sox could do with some public relations in their favor. Especially in terms of conditioning.
Not to say that baseball players are not athletes. That responsibility will be left with ESPN commentator and former Philadelphia Phillies player John Kruk’s famous quotation to the contrary. However, the amount of training and physical labor it takes for an NFL player to not only make the team, but also to prepare for the season, must be so demanding, Magee will find spring training workouts to be more of a relief than that strenuous.
But do not expect Magee to be ungrateful or cocky during his time with the Red Sox, this spring:
"“I’m grateful for the opportunity they gave me at the time. Right now, I’m focused on spring training” – Brandon Magee, on trying out for the Red Sox"
Many athletes have take both sports seriously. NFL elite players like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders even played both sports, instead of only concentrating on one. While Sanders showed more talent for football, Jackson was pretty amazing at both, when an injury was the only thing keeping him from playing either sport. Even today, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s rights were obtained from the Colorado Rockies by the Texas Rangers in 2013. In 2014, Wilson attended their training camp and took infield drills, even though he was always planning on staying strictly a football player.
Such is not the case for Magee. Another outfielder. Depending on his skills, stay tuned for how his inclusion to the Red Sox camp will impact the already-jammed outfield. Likely, if he stays with the organization, it will be in the minor system. Just how far down the system will Magee go? And, how will that affect other trade possibilities and options for the other players? Only time will tell.
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