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All-Star Game part of big year for Neshek

MIAMI -- Pat Neshek's 2017 season began with the World Baseball Classic, which turned out to be one of the best chapters of his life.

"It was just an unbelievable experience," Neshek said.

MIAMI -- Pat Neshek's 2017 season began with the World Baseball Classic, which turned out to be one of the best chapters of his life.

"It was just an unbelievable experience," Neshek said.

And then came a first half for the Phillies that was so good -- 38 appearances, 1.27 ERA -- it landed him a spot on the National League All-Star team.

Now what?

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"It's been one of those years where I feel there's a lot more in store," he said. "I think something really good is going to happen. Let's top it off with a World Series. You never know."

This is where it gets sticky. He has loved his half-season with the Phillies despite a 29-58 record.

"My family loves it there," he said. "We've lost 23 one-run games. If we win half of those, we're right in the thick of things.

"There's a lot of good brewing in Philly. Whether I'm there or not, I think there's a lot of good things coming."

He's not going to be there. He's pretty sure about that. He's a free agent after the season, and his 0.91 WHIP is the kind of dazzling number that could make him a hot commodity at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Video: PHI@ARI: Neshek fans Iannetta, the side in the 7th

Funny how these things work out. When the Phillies acquired him from the Astros last offseason, he knew the guessing game was that he would be a trade chip to acquire a prospect.

Turns out, the guessing game probably was right.

"It's nice," he said. "I've had really good years before. I can see where teams could need a guy like me."

Now about that Classic experience that ended with a gold medal celebration at Dodger Stadium.

"It was crazy," he said. "We showed up in Fort Myers [for practice], and [Team USA manager Jim Leyland] was like, 'I know you guys are really good, but the USA has never done anything in this tournament. You're kind of the underdogs. Go get 'em.'

"It was just like that. The game we played here [at Marlins Park] against the Dominican Republic was unbelievable. It was a crushing defeat [in letting a 5-0 lead get away], but we came back the next night against Canada and got to the next round.

Video: USA@DOM: Neshek K's Marte to preserve lead in 5th

"Once we got to the next round, we went to San Diego and beat the Dominican Republic. That was the game that changed it all. That's when it became really fun. We really did become a team.

"If it had ended in Miami, it wouldn't have been the same. Until then, we hadn't spent much time with each other. Once we got to go across the country together and do the practices in San Diego and L.A., it was awesome. I think everyone on the team would tell you it was a great experience."

His career has been nothing if not a roller coaster, having been with seven organizations and undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2008. He was waived once. He was sold once.

He also made the NL All-Star team for the Cardinals in 2014 and landed a nice three-year, $18.5 million deal with the Astros after that season. Now 36, he has learned to appreciate the ride.

"In 2007, I was in the running for the final five to get onto the All-Star team," he said. "And then I had Tommy John. That's when you don't know if you'll ever get a shot again.

"My velocity wasn't there when I came back, and I was toiling up and down in Triple-A and the big leagues. You go, 'Well, that was a fun run.' I got a shot with the A's in 2012 and have done pretty well since. I don't take it for granted. It's been a strange road."

Richard Justice has been a reporter for since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies, Pat Neshek