During Saturday's Bay Bridge Series contest between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, an apparently innocuous moment passed that probably deserved a bit more fan-fare. Brett Anderson was pulled from the game after five innings and replaced by relief pitcher Joey Devine. Over the course of the sixth inning, Devine allowed two base runners but escaped with no damage thanks to a beautiful relay on a double to right field as Ryan Sweeney threw home to Landon Powell, via Mark Ellis, to get Aubrey Huff at the plate.
The significance of the inning was not the crazy relay to get the out, but rather the fact that Joey Devine was even pitching at the big league level. This appearance marked Joey Devine's return to the big league level after two years of rehab following 2008 elbow surgery. Devine did not pitch at any level in 2009 and 2010, but finally got back to competitive play this season.
Devine has always had a ton of talent, but injuries have derailed what could be a sparkling career. The A's acquired Devine in a 2008 trade with the Atlanta Braves that sent Kotsay to Atlanta for Devine and Jamie Richmond. After a brief start at AAA, Devine came up to Oakland and had a sparkling 0.71 era in 42 appearances. However, his elbow broke down and he required extensive reconstructive surgery.
Devine made his way back in spring training this year but the A's felt he needed more time before they could be comfortable with him at the big league level. In 11 appearances at AAA-Sacramento, Devine threw 12 1/3 scoreless innings to start the season before the A's called him up this weekend following injuries to Tyson Ross and Brandon McCarthy. Devine has yet to appear in back to back games so the elbow still remains a little bit of a mystery. However, getting back up to the big leagues is a big step for him.