A's Bailey surfaces as an All-Star
Reliever goes from non-roster invitee to Classic
OAKLAND -- A little more than a year ago, A's right-hander Andrew Bailey wasn't just under the baseball radar. He was off the radar.
A week from this coming Tuesday, he'll be on game's national stage.
A non-roster invitee to Spring Training this year after salvaging his 2008 season with a move from Double-A Midland's starting rotation to the RockHounds' bullpen, Bailey on Sunday was informed before Oakland's game against the host Indians that he is the team's sole representative on the 2009 American League All-Star team.
"I was ecstatic," Bailey said after pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings against the Tribe to pick up his ninth save. "It should be a great experience."
The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, set for July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
As announced on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Pepsi, Bailey was selected to the team by AL manager Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays.
"He was well-deserving," A's manager Bob Geren said of Bailey, who is 4-1 with a 2.03 ERA in 37 games. "I felt like we had a couple of well-deserving All-Stars -- him and [catcher] Kurt Suzuki. [But] you only have so many spots on the roster, [so] you have to pick somebody, and I'm real happy they picked him."
Asked if he felt deserving of the honor, Bailey was humble.
"No," he said. "There were a lot of guys that deserved it. I knew I had an outside chance or a possibility. I didn't expect anything. It's sad that I don't have a teammate going, but I'll do the best I can to represent my team and my teammates."
After two solid seasons as a starter in the Minors, Bailey struggled to a 1-8 record with a 6.18 ERA in 15 starts before the 2008 Texas League All-Star break. He returned from the break as a reliever, threw a scoreless inning in his first relief outing on June 28 and went 4-1 with a 0.97 ERA over 22 outings out of the bullpen in the second half.
That earned him a trip to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he struck out 16 with one walk while posting a 1.29 ERA in 11 outings.
That brought him his first trip to big league Spring Training, where he posted a 0.66 ERA in 12 outings, having allowed one run over 13 2/3 innings.
A New Jersey native, Bailey made Oakland's Opening Day roster in large part because projected closer Joey Devine suffered a season-ending elbow injury during camp.
"[Bailey] came into Spring Training with an outside chance to even make the team," Geren said. "He's moved up the ladder in the bullpen to where he can close out games, and then makes the All-Star Game. That's quite a season.
"You think of him in October last year, pitching in the Arizona Fall League in front of a couple hundred people at night, to the All-Star Game nine months later -- that just tells you the great opportunity that there is in this game."
Bailey, who throws a fastball that routinely gets clocked in the mid-90s and has an excellent cutter, will continue something of a Midsummer Classic trend for the A's, who haven't had more than one player named to the All-Star team since 2004, when pitchers Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson represented the club in Houston.
Last year's lone honoree was right-hander Justin Duchscherer, who hasn't played this season and isn't expected to be fully recovered from late-spring arthroscopic elbow surgery until well after the break.
Oakland hasn't had a position player in the All-Star Game since catcher Ramon Hernandez was honored in 2003.
Given his steady production and highly regarded work with the team's extremely young starting rotation, Suzuki seemed to be a logical choice to represent the A's in St. Louis. But he was typically gracious upon hearing that Cleveland's Victor Martinez, who has been playing at first base quite a bit this season, had been named the backup backstop to the fan-voted starter, Joe Mauer of the Twins.
"It's not a big deal," said Suzuki, who went 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI in Sunday's 5-2 victory and is batting .282 with five homers and 33 RBIs.
"I'm happy for Andrew. He's having a better year than I am, no question about it. He's been our solid, stable guy in the 'pen.
"I'm disappointed that I'm not going, but I think ... I think [Bailey is] more deserving.
Drafted by the Brewers in the 16th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Bailey returned to Wagner (N.J.) College and was selected by the A's in the sixth round the following year.
Bailey said he couldn't remember the last time he was named an All-Star team, saying, "Maybe Little League." What he did know is that the honor hadn't yet sunk in.
"I don't think so," he said. "Sitting in the bullpen [during the game], just thinking about it ... to hear my name associated with some of the names that are going ... it's just going to be incredible."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.