Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Closer Comes Full Circle


Coming Home – Andrew Bailey is 31, which means his earliest baseball memories as a kid in South Jersey include Veterans Stadium, Darren Daulton, John Kruk, Curt Schilling and the 1993 National League champion Phillies. He will have the opportunity to play for his hometown team next year. The Phillies last week signed Bailey to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He will compete for a bullpen job alongside recently acquired veterans like David Hernandez, Ernesto Frieri, Edward Mujica and James Russell; incumbents like Elvis Araujo, Luis Garcia, Jeanmar Gomez, Dalier Hinojosa and Hector Neris; and Rule 5 Draft pick Daniel Stumpf. "As a kid growing up in South Jersey, you dream of playing for the Phillies," Bailey said in an interview with MLB.com. "My whole family is a fan of the organization. It's awesome to hear from so many friends and family. The feedback has been tremendous. Everybody is super excited. I look forward to the opportunity to wear the pinstripes. It'll be good to get back home, back to South Jersey. I'm really looking forward to it." Bailey attended Paul VI High School in Haddonfield, N.J. The A's selected him in the sixth round of the 2006 Draft out of Wagner College. The Phillies selected immediately before the A's, taking left-hander Daniel Brauer from Northwestern. Brauer never played higher than Class A Advanced Clearwater. "I think I did a pre-Draft workout at Citizens Bank Park," Bailey said. "I don't know how far their interest went, but I think there was an opportunity there in the sense I was invited to a workout at least. It's an exciting time. I definitely can't wait." Bailey won the American League Rookie of the Year Award with the A's in 2009, and he made the AL All-Star team in '09 and '10. But a shoulder injury has limited him to just 59 games in the previous four seasons, including 10 with the Yankees in 2015. Bailey posted a 1.80 ERA in 28 appearances in the Minor Leagues in 2015 before posting a 5.19 ERA with New York. Before injuries hit, he had a 2.07 ERA with 75 saves in 84 chances from 2009-11. "I'm coming off injuries and working my way back, so it's the opportunity I was looking for the most," he said. "The Phillies presented me with a great one and I hope to take full advantage of it." Bailey said he is healthy and he will have no restrictions when Spring Training opens in February. "The surgery I had was pretty much a reconstruction of the shoulder," Bailey said. "The surgeon gave me an 18-24 month timeframe to be 100 percent. The 18-month mark was Spring Training last year. I was able to go into camp and compete for a job. I came through healthy and ready to go. I worked my way back up and ended up getting called back to the big leagues, which was unbelievable. After that road, you wait so long to get back to what you want, I got a taste of it again, and I look forward to building off that month I had with the Yankees. "If I go into camp healthy and ready to go, hopefully it works out. I feel like I'm 100 percent ready to go."

The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

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