PORT CHARLOTTE — Like the wives of other players across the majors, Kayleigh McEnany tries to keep up with her husband’s baseball career while juggling family and work responsibilities.
So as Sean Gilmartin battles for a spot in the Rays bullpen, McEnany, a Tampa native, is busy making her own pitch — as national spokesperson for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
They’ve been high-profile couple for a while now, starting dating in 2015 when he was a rookie with the Mets, getting married in 2017 shortly after she was named spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, following a stint as a pro-Trump commentator on CNN.
“I’m kind of used to it now,’’ Gilmartin said. “Every team I’ve been with the past couple years, 'Oh, I saw your wife on TV the other day.’ It’s cool. It’s fun to see.’’
But this is a big year for both of them.
McEnany is working to try to help Trump win re-election, traveling the country with and speaking on behalf of the controversial president.
And Gilmartin is working to try to win a job as a multi-inning lefty reliever with the Rays, which would make a huge difference in their family life, as they live in Tampa, and now have a baby daughter, Blake.
“Having Sean with the Tampa Bay Rays is what we’ve been hoping and praying for,’’ McEnany said, via email. “We always dreamed of this happening but never knew it would become a reality. With a 3-month-old and me in a different state on the campaign trail almost daily, having Sean in Tampa is incredibly helpful.
"Just (in a recent) week, I was in Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and California for the president’s rallies and television. Typically, my mom travels all across the nation with our baby and me.
“Having Sean in Tampa means a lot more trips back to our permanent residence and the city I’ve always known and loved.’’
McEnany grew up in and around Tampa, living for a while in Plant City, attending Academy of Holy Names from fifth grade on. Her family is deeply rooted in Tampa, owning the McEnany Roofing company, and, she said, holding Rays season tickets for close to 10 years.
McEnany, 31, likes to talk baseball.
“I am so proud to tell my colleagues in politics and media about Sean’s career and his move to the Tampa Bay Rays,’’ she said. “I watch his games from the campaign headquarters, from airplanes, and all across the campaign trail.’’
Plus, there’s another baseball connection inside the Trump campaign, as communications director Tim Murtaugh is the grandson of longtime Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh. “It’s nice to have a boss who’s interested in and understands my husband’s career,’’ McEnany said.
Gilmartin, conversely, doesn’t talk much about his wife’s job in his workplace.
Politics are not often a topic of conversation in a major-league clubhouse, where there can be significant differences in opinion given the diverse mix of people based on geographical, ethnic, financial, societal and philosophical backgrounds.
“I try to keep that separate because nobody really cares what I have to say about that kind of stuff,’’ he said.
Especially how hot of a topic it will be this year.
“Absolutely, I get it,’’ said Gilmartin, 29, who signed a minor-league deal with the Rays. “Going forward I won’t get too involved.’’
When Gilmartin and McEnany are together, they do talk politics, and Trump.
“It’s always pretty much right at the forefront, which is fine,’’ he said. “We both have our opinions. We align fairly evenly on stuff like that, but that’s probably as far as I’m going to go right now with that.’’
Plus they get feedback anyway.
“We get our fair share of criticism, for sure,’’ he said. “Just the comments people leave on Twitter or social media or whatever. All that kind of stuff. It’s interesting.’’
Not so much to McEnany.
“Neither of us has time to focus on social media feedback,’’ she said. “We both have a singular focus and a united purpose: For me, it’s re-electing President Trump. For Sean, it’s getting outs and helping the team win. Together, it’s raising our beautiful daughter and raising a family that walks in the footsteps of Christ.”
There is something they don’t seem to agree on: Who has the higher-leverage assignment?
“She has a more stressful job than I have, I’ll be honest with you,'' Gilmartin said. "She’s a go-getter.''
“Being President Trump’s campaign press secretary involves hard work and commitment and is truly the honor of a lifetime,’’ McEnany said. “But, stress-wise, nothing compares to a full count, two outs, bases loaded, and the game on the line.’’
Contact Marc Topkin at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays