Just outside the visitors clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, the Oakland Athletics’ family will-call list sat on a small, red table hours before Saturday’s interleague game against the Phillies. The seventh and eighth entries read: “Wife, Amanda Bailey,” and “Parents, under William Bailey.”
This weekend, Oakland closer Andrew Bailey is facing the team he grew up rooting for in Haddon Heights. And he’s grown up a lot since graduating from Paul VI High, earning the American League rookie of the year award in 2009 and making two all-star appearances. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound righthander has put up great numbers over his career — 140 strikeouts in 141 2/3 innings with 56 saves and a 1.66 ERA — but that’s only when he can stay on the field.
Bailey, 27, has pitched in just nine games this season because of a forearm injury that kept him on the disabled list until his season debut on May 29. He also missed time in 2010 with elbow and rib-cage injuries.
On Saturday night, Bailey earned his fifth save of the season, giving up no runs in 1 1/3 innings of Oakland’s 4-1 victory.
“It’s going to be a long season for us if we don’t have him,” A’s starter Gio Gonzalez said. “Stay healthy — that’s all we need him to do.”
Bailey said: “Just staying healthy, I think that’s been a little bit of a problem for me over the last couple of years. “Even in my college career I focused on staying healthy and playing long in the big leagues. And that’s my dream, to play as long as I can. For me, just kind of focusing on that now and let the chips fall where they may."
Gonzalez, 25, is another young A’s pitcher. Bailey’s the type of guy he likes having around the locker room. Gonzalez described Bailey’s personality as something that may help the reliever through his injury struggles.
“He’s awesome,” Gonzalez said. “I think he brings character to this team. I think he’s the perfect fit for the bullpen. … Wherever he goes, he’s always with a smile on his face. He’s always working hard. You can see he’s a competitor.”
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