ANAHEIM -- The last time the Red Sox were in Oakland, reliever Andrew Bailey didn't make the trip. Not only was he still on the disabled list at the beginning of July, but his wife was in the process of giving birth to the couple's first child.
That means that Friday night, when the Red Sox travel to Oakland for the start of a three-game series, will be Bailey's first chance to return to his old home and pitch against his former team.
The trade that brought Bailey to Boston is living proof of what an unpredictable game baseball can be. When the deal was made, the perception was that Bailey would finally get to pitch in the heart of a pennant race while the A's spent a couple of years rebuilding.
With 31 games left in the season, the Red Sox are all but playing out the string and the A's are one of the best stories in baseball, holding the top spot in the American League Wild Card standings.
"Obviously at the start of the season, our expectations were grand and we haven't fully met them," Bailey said. "And I guess, in a sense, the A's have kind of outperformed their expectations where they kind of had the future in mind and had a couple of rebuilding years and guys getting their feet wet. To [A's GM] Billy Beane's credit and the front office, they've had success right away. It's great that they're able to put that team together and do what they're doing. For us, we have to stay focused and finish the season strong and see where it takes us and worry about the future next year."
The standings aren't the only reason this has been a frustrating year for Bailey. He missed the first 116 games following right thumb surgery. When he came off the disabled list on Aug. 14, Bailey initially worked in a setup role.
With the demise of Alfredo Aceves, Bailey has been working in his more familiar ninth-inning role of late. However, he still hasn't been told that he's the closer.
"Not really," Bailey said. "We're just kind of playing it by ear. The other day I was down and had thrown four out of five and they wanted to give me an off-day. We'll see going forward what happens. I think for a little bit they wanted me to get my feet under me a little bit. We'll see. I'm not too sure yet."
Bailey has pitched well since his comeback, posting a 1.69 ERA in seven outings.
"I feel good. I don't know when that phone is going to ring, but when it does, I'm ready," Bailey said. "Whatever role they want me to take on is fine by me. Hopefully we get some save opportunities down the road and hopefully I can be a part of that."