Righthander Andrew Bailey had dealt with the rumors all during the offseason that he would be traded from the Oakland A's. But when the closer was sent to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday in a five-player deal, it still caught him off-guard.
A graduate of Paul VI High in Camden County, Bailey was traded to the Red Sox along with outfielder Ryan Sweeney for rightfielder Josh Reddick and two prospects, third baseman Miles Head, 20, and righthander Raul Alcantara, 19.
Oakland has been cutting payroll and has traded, among other pitchers, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez.
"I was kind of surprised, to be honest," Bailey said in a phone interview. "No matter how much information or rumors there are, nothing is true until it all comes to fruition."
This is the first year that Bailey is eligible for arbitration, and he's expected to earn a sizable raise from the $465,000 he earned in 2011.
After missing the first two months of last season with a right forearm strain, Bailey saved 24 games and went 0-4 with a 3.24 ERA. He had 75 saves in his three seasons in Oakland and was a two-time all-star.
As a youngster growing up in Haddon Heights, Bailey rooted for the Phillies. Now he's replacing Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who signed as a free agent with the Phils.
"He had a lot of success and hope I can do the same and win a couple of championships like he did," Bailey said of Papelbon. "He is one of the best in the game."
Bailey, who will turn 28 in May, makes his offseason home in Connecticut and said it's only about two hours from Boston. His parents live in South Jersey.
"My family will get to see me more because we will only be about five or six hours from Philadelphia," he said.
Living in Connecticut and attending charity events there, Bailey has come to know his new manager, Bobby Valentine, who also lives in the Constitution State.
"Bobby and I are good friends," Bailey told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. "Bobby and I have a good relationship. He's excited to have me on board, and I'm excited to be there for him."
The 2009 American League rookie of the year, Bailey appreciates going to one of baseball's signature franchises.
"It's a privilege to be part of an organization with such a deep history," said Bailey, who will be holding a fund-raiser for pediatric cancer research in Pennsauken on Jan. 7 called the Bailey Bowl. (For information, go to www.strike3foundation.org.)
Bailey said he leaves the A's with nothing but good feelings.
"I loved my time in Oakland, loved the city and the Bay Area, and my wife and I had a great time," he said. "It's where I grew up and was six years in the organization, and it meant a lot to me to be there."