Andrew Bailey is the reigning American League Rookie of the Year, and he is also one of the game’s most engaging personalities. The Athletics’ closer clearly has a talented right arm, as evidenced by his 1.81 ERA and 40 saves in 98 big-league appearances. Based on his responses to questions about several Oakland teammates, he also possesses a keen and calculated wit.
David Laurila: Who is the most interesting person in the A’s clubhouse?
Andrew Bailey: Hands down, Dallas Braden. He is by far the most comical and energetic teammate that we have in the locker room. He has that swagger about him that our opponents tend to dislike, but I don’t really think Dallas cares too much about that. But he’s a great guy, a great clubhouse leader. He’s always playing pranks and keeping things light around the clubhouse. He’s a ball of fun to be around.
DL: It sounds like maybe the A-Rod incident didn’t come as much of a surprise?
AB: No, not really. He grew up in a rough neighborhood, and he’s a straight shooter, so if he sees something that you’re doing wrong, he’ll let you know. It doesn’t matter who you are, or how much time you have, or what have you. I think that the A-Rod thing kind of got blown up a little more than anyone would have liked, but Dallas is Dallas and that’s why we love him. He is who he is.
DL: Clubhouses being as they are, I assume he gets as much as he gives?
AB: Yeah, and I give him crap all the time. He likes to play jokes, and what have you, so he’s a guy that we do it to just because we know we’ll get a laugh out of him if we do it to him as well. So he’s always in for a good time and loves to let it loose.
DL: Who in the clubhouse is funny but maybe doesn‘t know it?
AB: I think it’s Mike Wuertz. He’s got a very dry sense of humor. He doesn’t really say too much, but I think he’s hilarious at points. He likes to rag on people a little bit and just give them a talking to every once in awhile. I just find it kind of funny. He’s also got some good jokes to go along with that.
DL: Can you repeat any of his jokes?
AB: Well, he said one about Tiger Woods and Santa, but I think we better keep that one in the clubhouse.
DL: From what I’ve observed, it looks like Jack Cust has quite the personality.
AB: Yeah, yeah, yeah, Cust is a great teammate. He’s just like Dallas in that he likes to keep it loose. He always has nicknames for himself. He goes by the self-proclaimed “El Nino.” I don’t know why; I don’t know where it came from, but it’s a self-proclaimed nickname, I believe. He walks around the clubhouse, “El Nino! El Nino!” and all that stuff. But he’s a good teammate and definitely one of the lighter guys in the clubhouse.
DL: What do his teammates call him?
AB: El Nino.
DL: So, Jack Cust exerts a lot of influence in the A’s clubhouse?
AB: Yes, he does. He’s a guy that’s just always listening to music; he’s always putting on the radio, or whatever, and kind of dancing around, or what have you. Of course, when it comes to game time he’s pretty serious, but he definitely likes to keep it light in the clubhouse.
DL: Earlier today, he was giving Mark Ellis some crap. Was that random, or is Ellis one of his favorite targets?
AB: That’s one of his favorite guys and it was probably about his sleeves. Was it about his sleeves being cut off?
DL: It was.
AB: Yeah, Ellis tends to walk around with his sleeves cut off and Cust always likes to give him a couple of words of encouragement about that. It’s a good little banter they have going back and forth.
DL: Who has better biceps, Cust or Ellis?
AB: I’d say Ellis, but just because they’re always out there. You always see them.
DL: How would you describe Rajai Davis?
AB: Rajai? He’s a quiet guy, man. He likes to keep to himself, although he brings a lot of energy to the game. He’s our sparkplug. He gets on base, he makes things happen. But off the field he spends a lot of time with his family and is a very quiet guy. You really only hear from him when you’re at the field. He gets his work in and he’s out of the clubhouse. He likes to go about his own business and kind of let everyone else take care of the leadership roles.
DL: What about Brett Anderson?
AB: Brett… ah, man, Brett. He’s a piece of work. He’s funny, but he’s a very quiet kid, though. Coming up with him in the minors—we played at a couple different levels together—he’s definitely come out of his shell a little bit here in the big leagues and started to open up a bit. He’s a guy that sits back and laughs at Dallas’ jokes, or at Cust’s jokes. He’s always in the middle of it, but really doesn’t have much to do with it. He’s kind of an observer, but he brings a lot of confidence and swagger to our clubhouse and that’s what we need.
DL: What is his reputation pitching-wise? Is he a crafty left-hander?
AB: I would say that Dallas is definitely the more crafty guy; he’s smart and knows how to pitch. Brett attacks. He has a hard fastball and a good slider, and he knows how to pitch with his two weapons. So he’s a dominant pitcher. He’s battled an elbow injury, but he can definitely be a No.1 very soon.
DL: Craig Breslow has a well-deserved reputation for being smart, but can he actually pitch?
AB: Breslow? Yeah, he can pitch, man. He got into a battle with [Miguel] Cabrera in Detroit, in a series where Cabrera hit four home runs against us, and Breslow went fastball, fastball, fastball, and if it was me, I would have just kept on letting it eat, and he took it back and threw a changeup and struck him out looking. So he knows how to pitch. He’s been around for a while and he’s always working on his game. He does have that reputation around baseball as being “the smartest,” but we like to give Breslow some flak in the clubhouse about Ross Ohlendorf, and how he’s the smartest guy in baseball, not Craig.
DL: No one in the A’s clubhouse is as smart as Breslow?
AB: No, not at all. Not close. We have an ongoing Scrabble game on everyone’s phones, or iPod Touches, called “Words with Friends.” It’s an application you can download and there are about 10 of us who sit there and play on trips, or in the airport, and Bres is No. 2. I’d have to say that [Ben] Sheets is No. 1 in that game.
DL: Does Brad Ziegler play?
AB: Yeah, Zeigler is in there. It’s me, Braden, Ziegler, Sheets, Breslow, [Jake] Fox; Tyson Ross plays. Sheets is No. 1, Breslow is No. 2, I’d say that I’m No. 3, and then Dallas. So Ziegler is in the bottom half. He’s a newbie to the game, though. He’s just learning the ropes.
DL: There are a lot of Texas natives in professional baseball. Is there anyone here who just screams “Texas”?
AB: Gabe Gross is from Tennessee, but I don’t really know if we have too many Texas boys on our team. But with Gross, you know from his accent and the fact that he loves to listen to his country music. He also likes to tuck his polo shirt into his jeans, with the nice belt buckle. I’m from Jersey and we don’t dress that way or talk that way. Not in Jersey. You can definitely tell that he’s from down south—the Tennessee area—so he definitely has the most stereotypes about him. It’s all good, of course, but he’s definitely from the South.
DL: How do guys react to him tucking his polo into his jeans?
AB: Well, he just tucks his fleece into his baseball pants—stuff that a lot of guys don’t do—so it’s funny. Sheets is always riding him about the way he dresses, and what have you. It’s funny. I’m sure he’s gotten it all the way through his career thus far.
DL: What about Kurt Suzuki? He’s not from Tennessee, nor from New Jersey.
AB: No, he’s from Hawaii. He’s got those puka shells. But Zuke is definitely a hard worker; he’s a great presence around our clubhouse. He’s a leader, a quiet leader. He goes about his business the right way and there’s not too much vocally. He likes to have a good time and laugh, and he’s very hilarious when he is kind of laid-back, but most of the time he’s pretty serious, especially when he’s at the field.
DL: What is Daric Barton like?
AB: Barton? Barton is funny. He’ll tell you how much pop he has, as far as home-run hitting. He’s always watching video and saying that he’s the stereotypical first baseman with a lot of power and all that stuff. He likes to rag on himself a little bit and we call him “El Bart,” because when Cust got sent to Triple-A, he said that we needed another nickname in the clubhouse. So Daric went around the clubhouse calling himself El Bart, for some reason—I don’t know why—but he’s a very funny guy and very carefree. He goes about his business and gets his work done, but once that’s over with he is pretty loose.
DL: Jerry Blevins went to the University of Dayton. Is he an Ohio kind of guy?
AB: I haven’t really met too many people from Ohio, but I guess I could definitely see where that’s coming from. In the bullpen, he likes to speak his mind a little bit and talk to fans, and give them crap back, and it’s pretty funny to watch that out there.
DL: What do guys usually talk about in the bullpen?
AB: Everything from baseball to making fun of each other to talking about what we’re going to do the next day, or… I don’t think there’s a conversation that we haven’t had in the bullpen. Everyone is always talking about something. Most of the time it’s me doing all of the talking, and I’m not sure if anyone is actually listening, but usually I’m the one talking or starting a conversation down there. Or I’m talking to fans, or what have you.
DL: I’ve asked you about several teammates, but who haven’t I mentioned that we need to talk about?
AB: Trevor Cahill. He is a quiet, hilarious kid. Actually, can I change my answer to who is the funniest kid but doesn’t know it? That would definitely be Cahill. He has a nickname that is probably the greatest in baseball and it needs to be out there. He’s called “The Pterodactyl." It’s a nickname that was given to him last year by Russ Springer, in spring training. Trevor is the quietest kid you’ll ever meet in your life, and he said, “Trevor, if you have one nickname to ever be given to you for the rest of your career, what would it be? Ready, go.” He gave him, one, two, three, and Trevor said, “Pterodactyl” and it stuck. Our coaches call him Pterodactyl, or Dactyl. He has it, his nickname, imprinted on his shoes. He’s probably the funniest kid. He doesn’t know it, but everybody else thinks he’s hilarious, with just kind of a mellow, California kind of mentality.
DL: Who on the team is the most “California”?
AB: Oh, man. I’m going to have to say Barton, because of the way he dresses and all that stuff. But Trevor is very San Diego with the whole skater persona. He wears a lot of the skater-type clothing lines and his mentality is very relaxed, kind of like a surfer.
DL: What do most people maybe not know about you?
AB: I’m pretty easygoing. I take baseball pretty seriously, but once the game starts, it’s all fun. For me, if you can’t have fun playing this game, you shouldn’t be playing it. But I don’t know if there is too much people don’t know about me. People around here call me “Boom Boom” although I don’t know why. They called me Boom Boom last year and the nickname has kind of stuck a little bit.
DL: You won the American League Rookie of the Year award last year. Do you think your teammates might have given you a new nickname by now had your 2009 season not been so good?
AB: No, I don’t think so. Plus, if I hadn’t of had a good rookie year, I probably wouldn’t even be here right now. The people I’m playing with now wouldn’t have the opportunity to call me that, because I’d be somewhere else. So I’m thankful to have that nickname, I guess you could say.