When Barry Zito agreed to participate on FOX’s “The Masked Singer” back in December, it seemed like a great professional opportunity that also would time out well with the birth of his third child.

Until his newest son arrived five weeks early.

“It was very tricky coordinating,” the former Giants and A's pitcher told NBC Sports California on Tuesday, one day before "The Masked Singer" finale. “I actually had to fly back on my second-to-last performance in the middle of the night, to get here [to Nashville] hours before the baby was born.”

It all worked out well, and Zito, who has focused on his music career after retiring from baseball in 2015, actually made it a lot further in the singing competition than expected.

Zito, who wore a rhino mask to hide his identity, was voted off the show last week, just missing the chance to be one of three finalists to compete for the title Wednesday night.

“You have people who have been doing it their whole lives, and I’m kind of a newbie going into it over the last four or five years,” Zito said. “It was more like an incredible challenge. I wanted to see if I could pull this off with any success at all.”

During weeks of taping episodes, Zito had to remain in complete secrecy. Even on set, only about eight people associated with the show knew his identity.

“I’m walking around in a sweatshirt that says, ‘Don’t talk to me,’ and a huge silver mask on my face everywhere I go,” Zito explained.

 

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Once the show began airing, many of Zito’s friends instantly had him pegged as the human singing from inside the rhino suit.

“Matt [Cain] was kind of the first one to sniff it out," Zito said. "Eric Byrnes was hot on the trail. Kevin Frandsen, too. I was doing everything I could to throw them off."

The best deceptive response to inquiries?

“Wow, I’ve heard that's a good show, but I’ve never seen it,” Zito would respond. “What time is that show on?”

Sounds like the left-hander was trying to throw another curveball.