Jeff Bailey spent parts of six years playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox (2004-09).
In 2011, there’s a good chance that he’ll be playing against them.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
The 2008 International League MVP signed with the Minnesota Twins as a minor league free agent on Wednesday. His deal includes an invitation to major league spring training camp, but if he doesn’t make the big league club, he’s likely to start the season at McCoy Stadium . . . in a Rochester uniform.
“I looked at the schedule the other day and saw that the Rochester Red Wings open at Pawtucket so that will be kind of strange,” Bailey told me. “I’ll get to take part in another Opening Day ceremony and it will be extra special because I’m sure there will be a tribute to Ben Mondor. I’ve talked to some people about that and watched some interviews online with Mike Tamburro and Theo Epstein. It’s sad, but I know they’re going to work really hard to keep everything going the way that Ben wanted it to go. It will be good to be there again.”
Bailey spent last year with Arizona’s Triple-A team in Reno, NV, batting .289 (.387 OBP/.462 SLG) with 33 doubles and 78 RBI. But despite having a solid season, he was not enamored with the Diamondbacks’ organization.
“It was poorly run and people lost their jobs because of it,” Bailey said. “I was told a lot of things that were lies and I addressed the general manager and manager at the end of spring training about those issues. Any chance I had of getting called-up probably went out the window. But you have to stand up for yourself every once in a while.”
As a six-year minor league free agent, Bailey was free to negotiate with other teams beginning five days after the World Series ended. He was interested in returning to the Boston organization, but Minnesota was aggressive in pursuing him.
“The Twins called right away,” Bailey said. “My agent got an offer from them and asked me what I thought. It was a great offer, but I wanted to call the Red Sox and see what they had to say. But Boston has some other issues going on and they’re not going to be doing any six-year free agent signings at this point. Maybe three or four weeks down the road is what (VP of Player Personnel) Ben Cherington told us, so we didn’t want to wait and decided to move forward with the Twins.”
Next season will be Bailey’s 15th in pro baseball (he turns 32 on Friday), and while Jeff obviously hopes to spend at least part of it in Minnesota, he will not complain if he’s sent to Rochester.
“It’s pretty simple. I enjoy playing baseball thoroughly and if someone is willing to give me an opportunity then that’s what I’m going to do.” Bailey said. “I’m not going to get involved in any of the politics. Last year I thought that going to the Diamondbacks would help me get to the big leagues, but I’m not going to worry about that anymore. I’m going to let the cards fall where they may. I’m going to plan on being in Rochester and having a good Triple-A season and if I get called up to help that team win in the big leagues than that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t dwell on that stuff anymore. I’m just happy to still be playing.”
PawSox fans will be happy to see him again. Even if he’s wearing the wrong uniform.
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