Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

New Padres reliever Trevor Rosenthal trusts in Christ as San Diego clinches playoff berth

Padres relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal may have found his home in San Diego during this truncated 2020 MLB season.

He’s amassed 10 saves in 21 appearances, and three saves have come since his August 29 trade from the Kansas City Royals. He’s had zero earned runs in San Diego through seven appearances, which has given him a 2.08 overall ERA in 2020. If he can sustain that mark through the final six regular-season games, it would be the lowest ERA of his eight-year career.

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Rosenthal’s stellar pitching performances since his arrival last month have helped the Padres make a final push toward the postseason. On Sunday, San Diego secured its first playoff berth since 2006 with a 7-4 win over the Seattle Mariners. Rosenthal closed out the playoff-clinching victory, and in doing so he recorded his first win since 2017.

The 2020 season has been a revival of sorts for Rosenthal, a 2015 All-Star.

During the 2017 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, it was discovered that Rosenthal would have to undergo Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals did not re-sign him for 2018 and he rehabbed as a free agent. The Washington Nationals signed him for the 2019 season, but poor performances and injuries plagued his stint in Washington. The Nationals released Rosenthal and, aside from 10 appearances with the Detroit Tigers, he spent much of 2019 in the minor leagues.

He then signed as a free agent with the Royals in January, and spent the whole pandemic period with them until the trade in August. And now, Rosenthal is not only back in the majors, but he is now the closer for a team with aspirations for a deep playoff run.

Rosenthal joined the Sports Spectrum Podcast this past March, when he was still with the Royals, to recount his baseball journey and share about his faith in Christ. He saw God at work in bringing him through Kansas City.

“My former manager from the St. Louis Cardinals, Mike Matheny, signing back (as manager with the Royals),” Rosenthal said, “I feel like that, for me, was just a huge part in how God works and how He’s kind of brought me through the last couple years.”

Rosenthal said his recent struggles were a new test of his faith.

“That foundation [of faith] was there, but it’s still hard, you know? … To go through that was something that challenged those beliefs at little bit,” he said. “I can say, ‘My identity is in Christ’ … but [when] things kind of hit the fan and you struggle, it kind of puts that faith to the test and that’s exactly what happened.”

Rosenthal, who says he’s a believer on his Twitter page, grew up in a Catholic home, was baptized and confirmed when he was young. However, he said he had never experienced a personal relationship with Christ until he was in the Cardinals’ minor-league system.

“I was in Johnson City, Tenn., just sitting in my host family’s room, just laying in bed at night,” Rosenthal said. “And it was over the course of a few nights were I felt this presence. And I truly believe it was the presence of God or the Holy Spirit just telling me, ‘Hey, I’m here. I’ve always been here. I’m always going to be here.’ … That was the point where I felt that calling of something that I’m going to choose not to ignore and I’m going to pursue this and see what this is about.”

Once Rosenthal joined the Cardinals, his faith only grew as he was surrounded by faithful followers of Christ like Matt Holliday, Matt Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and others.

“For me to see that, and for them to show me that in a way where they weren’t beating me over the head … I want to see what this faith side is all about and just continue to grow,” Rosenthal said.

He’s now living out his faith in San Diego, and headed to the playoffs. The Padres host the Los Angeles Angels for a brief two-game series beginning Tuesday before ending the regular season with four games against the San Francisco Giants. The Padres are currently slated as the No. 4 seed in the National League.

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