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Giants coach Bailey details daughter's inspirational fight

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The scene has become a familiar one during Giants games over the past couple of seasons. Pitching coach Andrew Bailey will stroll out to the mound when a pitcher is in a jam, and after a few moments of discussion, surrounded by Giants infielders, Bailey will turn and confidently head back to the dugout. More often than not, he is soon joined by a smiling pitcher who just worked his way out of the inning. 

There are no magic words during those meetings, Bailey says. His goal is to remain positive and confident, to always remember that it's really difficult to pitch at the big league level, and to create the right environment for success. As he walks out to the mound, he tries to remind himself that you never know what a player is thinking about, what he might be dealing with off the field or at home. 

It's a lesson Bailey has learned firsthand during his own career as a relief pitcher and coach. 

The Baileys, Andrew and his wife Amanda, have three young children. Their days are filled with the usual activities. There's T-ball practice and soccer games, family bike rides, trips to the beach and, of course, plenty of nights at the ballpark. Andrew describes it as "normal everyday life," but it wasn't always this way. 

Theodora "Teddy" Bailey, the family's oldest child, was born six weeks premature in 2012, leading to a series of serious health concerns early on and ultimately a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Teddy's health problems began right away. She was born without an esophagus, and four hours into her life she went into surgery. Teddy spent weeks in a newborn intensive care unit before being allowed to go home, but even then, the Baileys felt there might be some other health concerns. They just couldn't quite put their fingers on what was going on.

 

Andrew had been a two-time All-Star and the Rookie of the Year with the A's and was in his first season with the Boston Red Sox when Teddy was born. He was on the IL when Amanda went into labor but made it from Seattle to Connecticut in time for Teddy's birth. Weeks later, he was back out on the road with the Red Sox when Teddy was rushed back to the hospital. Amanda had put Teddy down to sleep when she heard a strange noise.

"I noticed that she was completely blue and unresponsive," she said. "They sent an ambulance over and luckily by the time the ambulance came I got her awake and responsive, but obviously they still had to take her just to make sure everything was cleared. But then she went blue again while we were in the ambulance. They just gave her every test possible and everything kept coming back negative, which was great, but for us as parents we're kind of like, okay, why is she having these issues."

Teddy was initially diagnosed with apnea, which caused her to occasionally stop breathing while she slept. A little over a year later, a more serious diagnosis was reached. The Baileys were told their first child had cerebral palsy, a rare group of disorders that impacts the ability to move and maintain proper balance and posture. 

Cerebral palsy has a wide range of outcomes, and the Baileys threw themselves into the research process, looking for information, the right doctors, pediatricians, child psychologists, ophthalmologists, physical therapists and speech specialists. 

"We really were just trying to surround ourselves with a great support system and ecosystem that could give Teddy the best chance to have a very high quality of life," Andrew said. 

While Andrew's profession took him away from home quite often, it did prove extremely useful as the family looked for the right path for Teddy. Andrew signed with the Yankees before the 2014 season and their team doctor introduced him to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the New York Hospital for Special Surgery. The family was told Teddy was a good candidate for selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery, a complicated procedure in which the spinal cord is opened up and faulty nerve endings are removed. 

Instagram/AndrewBailey37

The Baileys were sent to Gillette Children's Speciality Healthcare in Minnesota, where Teddy underwent testing and was cleared to start preparing for the procedure. Doctors opened up her spinal cord and moved sensory and motor nerves apart, testing each of the motor nerves that ran down to Teddy's legs, where she was having most of her issues. During the nine-hour procedure, they discovered that about a quarter of Teddy's rootlets were damaged or not sending the proper signals to her lower extremities and needed to be severed. 

 

"It was a successful surgery that's really changed Teddy's life incredibly and mine and my wife's as well," Andrew said. "We're just blessed we found the right path to get there. As parents, when a child has special needs you're the advocate for them, and you just want to make the right choices along the way."

The lengthy surgery preceded a much more grueling rehab process, but that was something the family had grown accustomed to. Andrew was nearing the end of his career at that point and was rehabbing his own injury, so the family moved up to Minnesota for the offseason. Andrew would drop off his son, Matthew, at the hospital in the morning, go do rehab for a back injury at a Minnesota Timberwolves facility, and then join the family a couple of hours later to help with Teddy's rehab.

Teddy needed to essentially learn how to walk again, and for the first four months of rehab she was confined to a wheelchair. The rehab was required every day for the first eight months, and then it went down to five days a week. In the middle of that hectic schedule, the Baileys made sure that a special day was celebrated. Teddy got a day pass to visit the family's St. Paul apartment on Christmas day. 

"Santa came to the apartment," Andrew said, smiling. "It was nice. It was really, really good."

Instagram/AndrewBailey37

Andrew had multiple surgeries as a pitcher and now has a job where overseeing rehab is part of the daily process. He is as well-versed in the routine as any parent could be, but he still looks back in amazement at how Teddy handled the grind. He calls her his warrior princess.

"She was amazing, so resilient and inspiring," he said. "Her personality is so special, so outgoing, just normal. You would think a kid with disabilities who has been through so much would have so much to complain about but she never complained once and to this day never does."

Andrew and Amanda had balanced baseball with their children's needs early in Teddy's life, but by the time she started making serious strides in her rehab, Andrew knew that his own work likely would not lead to many more innings on the mound. He retired before the 2018 season and took a coaching job with the Los Angeles Angels. Following two seasons on the Angels' staff, Gabe Kapler hired him to take charge of the pitchers in San Francisco.

After hundreds of nights spent at hospitals on the East Coast and in the Midwest, the Baileys now have settled down in California, where Teddy, who just finished second grade, lives the normal life of an eight-year-old, playing soccer, wiffle ball, kickball and riding her skateboard and beach cruiser.

 

Amanda can't wait until Teddy is old enough that she can explain to her daughter how much she has overcome already in life and what a fighter she has been, and the Baileys will have some unique ways to show Teddy how inspirational she has been.

This spring, assistant pitching coach J.P. Martinez learned Teddy's story and approached Kapler with an idea. On Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, the Giants wore green hats and wristbands to pay tribute to the fight that so many children still face.

"It's really cool to see her inspire so many people," Andrew said. "She's already touching thousands of people and she has no idea. It's really cool."

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