Andrew Bailey, Close to Retiring, Now the Angels' Closer

By Fletcher, Jeff | Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), September 8, 2016 | Go to article overview

Andrew Bailey, Close to Retiring, Now the Angels' Closer


Fletcher, Jeff, Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)


ANAHEIM -- A baseball roster being the zero-sum entity that it is, one player's misfortune leads to another player's opportunity.

The Angels have certainly suffered through more than their share of bad luck, with a string of injuries that have sunk their season.

Out of that rubble, however, opportunities have sprouted for players like Andrew Bailey, who has enjoyed a memorable week as he's taken steps to revive a career that not long ago seemed dead.

Three weeks after he was at home, without a job, Bailey had not only returned to the majors, but recorded his first save in three years. He saved the ball from what he called an "emotional" moment Sunday in Seattle.

Five years' worth of injuries, the most serious leading to career- threatening shoulder surgery, made Bailey, 32, all the more appreciative the Angels gave him a shot.

"It's been a long road back to the big leagues," said Bailey, who signed a minor-league deal with the Angels in August and joined the major-league team when rosters expanded this month.

"I'm just happy to be here. I just want to take advantage of this opportunity."

Bailey's career has been, in his words, a "rollercoaster." Less than three years after he was a sixth-round draft pick, he was a major-league closer on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year in 2009.

In his first three seasons with the Oakland A's, he was a twice an All-Star, posting a 2.07 ERA and averaging 27 saves. The rebuilding A's, though, dealt him to the Boston Red Sox in December 2011.

Bailey's career then went the wrong direction.

He tore a ligament in his thumb in his first spring with the Red Sox. The next season, he blew out his shoulder.

For as far as sports medicine had advanced in repairing pitchers' elbows, the shoulder remains more of a mystery. Bailey needed an anterior capsule repair, with a cleanup of his labrum and his rotator cuff.

Noted orthopedist Dr. David Altchek told him his shoulder's condition was similar to Johan Santana's.

Remember Santana? The two-time Cy Young winner was well on his way to the Hall of Fame, but shoulder trouble ended his career early.

Altchek told Bailey it would take at least 18 months for him to pitch again in the majors, and perhaps two years.

"With no guarantees," Bailey recalled.

Bailey, who was 29, told himself he would give it two years. During that seemingly endless rehab, Bailey sought out experts who helped him learn about his shoulder.

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"I found people in Boston, Toronto and New York that really enlightened me on what works and what doesn't," he said. …

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