American League Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey finished the 2009 season with 26 saves, a 1.84 ERA and a 6-4 record for the A's. In 2006, the right-hander from New Jersey was the highest draft pick ever from a Northeast Conference school (sixth round) after pitching for Wagner College on Staten Island in New York. He recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
12/31/2009 1:27 PM ET
Q&A with the Athletics' Andrew Bailey
Closer made the most of his opportunities in 2009
By Jeff Moeller / MLB.com
MLBPLAYERS.com: Can you tell us about the last seven or eight months and everything that's gone on for you?
Bailey: Coming into Spring Training, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I came in with the attitude that I was going to try and impress the coaches and manager. I wanted to make a good impression, so if later on down the line they needed someone for the bullpen, they would think of me. After a couple of injuries during Spring Training, I was given an opportunity, and I made the team. That was an unbelievable experience. From there on it just got better, especially the All-Star game. It was a great year.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What are some of the advantages of breaking in to such a young pitching staff?
Bailey: I think it helps a lot, not only on the field but off the field as well. A lot of us came up through the Minors together and played on the same teams. I think that you develop a little more camaraderie and friendships in the Minors. Up here, it's more business, and you don't have those long bus rides to sit for hours and hang out with your teammates.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What was your immediate reaction upon learning that you made the team out of Spring Training?
Bailey: It was funny. I got called into Bob Geren's office, and Billy Beane was sitting there, too. They told me that they hate having to cut guys, so I was already thinking that I was headed back down. Then they told me that I made the team. I was ecstatic. I called all my family and friends. That whole day was crazy. We were playing the Giants and I threw 1 2/3 innings. One of the guys came up to me and told me that I had a great Spring Training. I didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. It was awesome. I was just happy for the opportunity.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What was it like to have your own T-shirt night in Oakland.
Bailey: I took a lot of heat for that. It was pretty cool, though. The A's wanted to push it, so I said OK. It's weird. First you have a baseball card out and then you have a T-shirt out. It's pretty crazy having your face out there and having fans know who you are. That was something special because not everyone gets to have a night like that.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When you look back on your career 50 years from now, what is the one thing you are going to remember about the All-Star Game?
Bailey: I think shagging batting practice and warming up with all the guys is what I will remember the most. I was just trying to watch other guys and see what they did and learn what I could. It was so cool to run around the outfield and hear all the fans screaming. You're hanging out with guys that you idolized growing up. I was just trying to take it all in and enjoy it.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How about transitioning from the Minor League schedule to a 162-game schedule?
Bailey: It's a long year. I had never pitched that late into September. Before this year, I had always played some instructional ball or ball in the Fall League. For me, I've had the workload before, but I've had time off in between to rest.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Would you agree that the back end of the bullpen was one of the bright spots for the Athletics this year?
Bailey: It's been a fun year, and I've been trying to learn what I can from some of the veterans. Those guys have been great for me on and off the field. They have been great role models for me since I've been here, showing me the ropes. We're just enjoying it, and I think we have a bright future.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What adjustments did batters make against you and what adjustments have you made on them?
Bailey: It's a funny game. There's a little mental game in there as well. You play the teams in your division so much that it's hard to surprise anyone. That's what's great about all the video out there. You can see what kind of adjustments they make to pitchers who compare to you. You can go back and see what they've done against you in the past. You can't always pitch to the hitter's weakness. A lot of the time you need to pitch to your strength. You have to challenge guys.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What are your plans for the offseason?
Bailey: I like to hang out with my family and friends back east. I don't get a lot of time for that during the season. I lay low for a little while and get ready for next season.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What other rookies impressed you this year?
Bailey: Elvis Andrus had a great year. Shortstop is not an easy position to play, and for him to do the things he did this year is amazing. He's going to be a great player. We've had a couple of battles this year, and I look forward to many more in the future.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.