Bleich's long journey finally reaches Majors

Reliever makes big league debut in tough situation vs. Giants

July 13th, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeremy Bleich is finally a big leaguer. It only took 10 years.
The A's promoted the 31-year-old pitcher from Triple-A Nashville ahead of Friday's series opener in San Francisco, swapping out for a second lefty reliever.
Bleich was promptly summoned in the seventh inning of Friday's 7-1 loss to the Giants after loaded the bases with no outs, leaving the rookie in a less-than-ideal spot with southpaw unavailable after working in back-to-back games. Bleich was tagged for a two-run double by and hit with his next pitch, marking the end of his big league debut.

That he even got to this point, however, is remarkable.
A slight shuffle in the A's bullpen marked a momentous day for Bleich, a former Yankees first-round Draft pick who has spent the last decade jumping around the Minor Leagues. He's suited up for 17 teams since being selected out of Stanford University as the 44th overall pick in the 2008 Draft.
"It's been a journey for me, so I've had literally every reaction," Bleich said. "Emotional, nervous, anxious, excited. There's obviously something going on great here right now, and we can kind of feel that at Triple-A. I'm excited to hopefully contribute and be a part of that."
Bleich, who was in big league camp with the A's this spring, had a 3.00 ERA in 27 appearances for Nashville, holding lefties to a .200 batting average.
"It's a great story," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We saw him enough in spring to know that we liked him. He's pitched well. We have confidence in our people in development that said he's ready to pitch here. We've used Buchter quite a bit, so it's nice to have another lefty."
Bleich's journey includes a lengthy shoulder rehab -- he was out of professional baseball for more than two years because of it -- and a short stint in independent ball.
He nearly quit the sport just last year after he was released by the D-backs following his return from the World Baseball Classic with Team Israel.
"I thought I was done," he said.
Bleich considered picking up employment in New York -- "Commercial real estate, medical device sales," he said, smiling -- but found himself playing for the independent Somerset Patriots before latching on to the Dodgers organization. He compiled a 3.22 ERA in 31 appearances for Triple-A Oklahoma City to cap his season, later agreeing to a Minor League deal with the A's.
"I think I wouldn't trade my path for anything else," Bleich said. "It's definitely shaped who I am."
His first call upon hearing word of his promotion Thursday night was to mom Caron, who arrived from Boston with several other family members in time for Friday's game. His father, Stan, passed away nearly four years ago.
"I remember coming to this park when I was a junior in high school," he said. "We came to watch Barry Bonds hit two homers. That's the last game I remember going to with my dad, so it's kind of cool.
"It's a special park. It's the only place that's cold in July, right? I remember that. I remember being freezing and my dad being upset. He had to buy me some expensive jacket from the team store."