The Jeff Bailey era is over in Pawtucket.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
After spending parts of the last six years with the PawSox, Jeff Bailey will not be back at McCoy Stadium in 2010. The 31-year-old outfielder/first baseman agreed to a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks on December 23rd.
Bailey received an invitation to major league spring training camp and hopes to open the season with Arizona instead of its Triple-A team in Reno, NV.
“I’ve gotta think it’s a better opportunity to actually make the major league team out of spring training,” Bailey told me from his home in Kelso, WA. “Obviously last year, I did everything that I could in the spring and I still didn’t make it with Boston. I figure I’m going to try to do the same thing with Arizona and hope that it’s good enough to make the team and actually stick there. It could be an up-and-down season just like the last few and that’s fine too.”
“I’ve had numerous people tell me that I’m a National League player,” Bailey said. “I agreed with them the whole time, but I just liked the situation that I was in with Boston. But in the National League with double-switches and more pinch hitters, it’s going to benefit me, I know that.”
Bailey earned promotions to Boston in each of the last three seasons, batting .228 (.340 OBP) with 6 HR in 56 games. Jeff was the International League’s MVP with Pawtucket in 2008 when he batted .301 with 25 HR and 75 RBI in 109 games (.405 OBP/.562 SLG). So what was the highlight of his six years in the Red Sox organization?
“I never got to play in a playoff game and that would have been the biggest highlight, but I’d have to say that my first major league call-up would be it. I wasn’t doing so well that year, and when RJ (manager Ron Johnson) told me the news at a truck stop on the New York State Thruway, I didn’t believe him. He had to tell me again before I realized he was serious. That would probably be the number one moment right there.”
“The whole six years I really can’t think of any moments that were disappointing for me,” Bailey told me. “Obviously, on the field I would have liked to play better some of those years, but there’s nothing you can do about that. Who knows, maybe my time with Boston is not over – maybe after I get done playing, I can coach for them. I haven’t really given that much thought, but maybe in a few more years I’ll think about that.”
Here’s hoping that Jeff spends the next few years in the major leagues.
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Bailey falls one year short of tying the team record for longest tenure as a player. There are two players in PawSox history who have spent parts of seven seasons with the team – Dave Koza (1977-1983) and Mike Rochford (1984-1990).