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Bailey relieved after meeting with Andrews

Bailey relieved after meeting with Andrews

Bailey relieved after meeting with Andrews
PHOENIX -- An upbeat Andrew Bailey sat on the top ledge of the A's dugout, a swarm of media members surrounding him while teammates underwent their normal morning workouts.

The A's closer, fresh off a visit with noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews, graciously fielded questions left and right about his strained right forearm, the next step forward and the friend he playfully now refers to as "Doc" while addressing reporters for the first time since exiting Monday's contest with discomfort in his elbow and forearm.

"Andrews is a great guy," Bailey said on Thursday. "I told him, 'I love you, Doc, but I don't want to see you anymore.'"

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Oakland's two-time All-Star is unfortunately all too familiar with Andrews, who performed Bailey's 2005 Tommy John surgery and his September cleanup procedure. This time, though, the orthopedic surgeon assured Bailey that he suffered no structural damage and, thus, does not need another operation. Rather, Bailey believes he'll be throwing again in a matter of days.

"Dr. Andrews is very optimistic about me this year and my future," Bailey said. "He said the MRI showed that the UCL ligament is healthy. He reiterated the fact that the ligaments he puts in are stronger than ones you originally get. He said they looked normal, like you've been pitching for five years, so I'm very optimistic about that.

Monday merely marked Bailey's second spring outing, and the right-hander admittedly said he was experiencing the regular soreness and tenderness that comes with Spring Training as he entered the game. After throwing a pitch to Cleveland's Ezequiel Carrera with one out in the seventh inning, Bailey winced in pain while grabbing hold of his arm.

"I felt a ripping sensation," Bailey said. "That really scared me. As a pitcher, that's your livelihood. ... It all happened so fast, whereas in 2005, I kind of felt it coming a little bit. This one, everyone saw it was right then and there."

The feeling, Andrews explained, was the result of scar tissue tearing -- a common occurence for pitchers a few months after they've had surgery. That dose of news lent Bailey, who deemed his trip "a nerve-racking experience," great peace of mind.

"You have to go through that to get to where you want to be," Bailey said. "It's just kind of bad timing to have it happen now, [rather] than when I'm throwing in the offseason."

Bailey's well aware, though, of the surrounding company he has in the bullpen. His absence, an undetermined amount of time that could potentially creep slightly past the Opening Day mark, means the A's will be turning to a handful of other bullpen arms, including offseason acquisitions Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour, along with Craig Breslow, Michael Wuertz and Brad Ziegler.

"It's really important to tackle this early on," Bailey said. "We're going to do big things with or without me, and I just hope to be a part of it.

"I'd love to be a part of that group, but these guys are more than capable of handling the workload without me in there. Hopefully I can join them and get the troops going."

Bailey, who has put together a 1.70 ERA with 51 saves over the past two seasons, needs to be pain-free with no tightness before he picks up a ball again. He believes he'll likely throw in an extra day of rest thereafter to play it safe. In the meantime, he'll keep up with his normal elbow and shoulder exercises to maintain his arm strength

"Dr. Andrews said to make sure you take the time now," Bailey said. "It's one of those situations [where] you don't want to miss time down the road. For me, it's important we give it the time."

Even if that means starting the season on the disabled list, where Bailey was stationed for more than a month last year, the 26-year-old righty couldn't be more pleased with the diagnosis he received from the surgeon "who knows me better than any other doctor out there."

"Usually it's not good news for me there, either, but this time it was awesome," he said. "It was very welcome news."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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