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TinCaps

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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
After his first stint with the TinCaps, reliever John Hussey was out of baseball for two years.

Aussie is back and having a ball

After two years out of the game, TinCaps reliever John Hussey has found his love of baseball again.

He still isn’t a fan of the weather, though.

“I’ve been wearing two hooded sweatshirts,” Hussey, a native of Australia, said with a laugh.

Cold or not, he’s happy to be back.

Before a relief appearance against the Lansing Lugnuts on Sunday, Hussey hadn’t made a professional appearance in the U.S. since 2010. He played with the TinCaps at that time but found himself at a crossroads.

Hussey returned home to pursue a career in exercise science and declined multiple invitations to play in the Australian Baseball League. But when he heard rumors the league might fold, the temptation to play one last season in his native country was too much to ignore.

So, he played. That’s when the Padres came calling.

“It happened awfully quickly,” Hussey said. “It was a bit of a surprise, to be honest.”

Since returning, Hussey can’t get enough of baseball. He shows up at the park hours early and sticks around hours afterward. It all feels new, he said, despite the cool weather and getting used to playing at the minor-league level again.

Hussey, 26, is as happy as he’s been while playing the sport. The chilly spring and his renewed passion for pitching aren’t the only surprises he’s run into since coming back.

“I’ve forgotten how nice and welcoming Americans are,” Hussey said. “Everyone’s extremely interested when they hear you have an Australian accent.”

His team, full of young players with little professional experience, has been listening closely, too. While many have international backgrounds, Hussey is one of the few not in his teens or early 20s. He offers a perspective that is uncommon at the Single-A level.

“Baseball, you can’t think ahead,” he said. “You can’t be hoping to do this and that. You just have to do your best every single day. And that means forgetting yesterday and not thinking about tomorrow.”

For Hussey, that’s been easy. Every throw-around, every outing, feels special. It doesn’t “feel like a job” anymore, which is a positive for Hussey.

“I feel very refreshed about baseball,” Hussey said. “I feel great. I want to get here early and be at the field for as long as possible to be honest. It’s not too hard to get back in the swing of things when you enjoy it, and I’m enjoying baseball a lot right now.”

smorrison@jg.net

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