(BaseballStL) – Redbird reliever Pat Neshek is going home.
He’s headed back to Minnesota, his home through his high school years, to represent the Cardinals in the 2014 All Star game, for the first time in his career.
Nehek, 33, said when his manager Mike Matheny told him he had made the All Star team, he just tuned everything and everyone out.
“I shook my head and said, ‘Wow, this is a reality.’ It felt good,” Neshek said.
The side-armer continued to explain how important this accomplishment meant to him as he tried to hold back tears.
“I just shook my head there for awhile. I just couldn’t believe it. It meant a lot to me a few years back to maybe make it. Then to go through the Tommy John and stuff, it’s been tough. This clubhouse has been supportive from day one.”
Day one, Neshek entered Spring Training as a non-roster invitee signed to a minor league contract, but the right-hander quickly impressed the team. Fast forward to now, Neshek has recorded 13 holds with a scoreless innings streak of 9.1 innings through 12 games. He has also only allowed runs in 3 of the 40 games he’s pitched.
But no matter the success he’s having this season, Neshek knew making the All Star roster wasn’t a lock.
“[It came as] kind of a surprise. I thought there was a chance. I thought maybe I’d come down to a final five vote again,” Nehsek explained, “Believe it or not, I had a similar year in ’07. I was on the final five and I thought, ‘If I didn’t make it that year, there was no way I would make it this year.’”
“But I know they added a few spots since then,” Neshek joked, “It’s awesome to be rewarded.” He lost out to Hideki Okajima in the 2007 fan vote.
The decision to sign with the Cardinals was a tough one for Neshek, he said he didn’t think he could make the team.
“I got a call from my agent. I was at my grandma’s funeral. [My agent] said, ‘Yeah the Cardinals are interested.’ I just shook my head and said, ‘Oh more bad news.’” Nehek laughed, “They’ve got Rosenthal throwing 100, Martinez throwing 100. Maybe in June I might get up there.”
He made the club from the beginning and it’s hard to argue with why. He has 35 strike outs and a WHIP of 0.57.
“I had success a little bit like this early in my career with the Twins. I thought it was still in there, but you never know. It’s crazy to see what it blossomed into.”
Neshek’s brother, Paul, works on the grounds crew in Minnesota so the brothers will be reunited in a little over a week.
“It’ll be a normal day, if you can believe that. I love the Minnesota fans,” he said, “It’s going to be really neat. I know the fans up there. I have a special place for them.”