It’s safe to say Wednesday night will be a bit of an odd experience for Joe Kelly.
Just six days ago, the 26-year-old right-hander was a starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that drafted him and gave him his first taste of major league action.
This week, Kelly is back at Busch Stadium but wearing a different kind of red, white and blue.
Kelly was one of the Boston Red Sox’s numerous trade-deadline acquisitions, coming over along with Cardinals teammate Allen Craig in the trade that sent John Lackey to St. Louis.
“There will be some (emotions) there, yeah,” Kelly said Tuesday, via MLB.com. “You just have to go out there and try to minimize them and focus on the task at hand.”
Kelly’s homecoming will be more than just suiting up against a bunch of guys he used to play with. He’s scheduled to get the start Wednesday opposite Cardinals righty Shelby Miller, one of his best friends. The pitchers, who came up together in the Cards system, were the best men at each other’s weddings.
“If you didn’t like to compete, you probably wouldn’t be playing baseball,” Miller said. “Obviously, me and Joe both compete at a lot of things, and (Wednesday) will be another thing. The biggest thing is just to go out there and try to pitch your best to get a win for the team. I know we’ll both try to do that.”
More than bragging rights will be on the line between the two old friends, too. Since the game will be played under National League rules, meaning both pitchers must bat, Kelly approached Miller on Tuesday with a friendly wager. If either hurler records a hit off the other, his counterpart must pay him $100.
“He always says he’s a better hitter than I am,” Kelly said Monday, via The Boston Globe. “I guess we’ll see.”
Photo via Twitter/@MLB