Two days after the death of his newborn son, Pat Neshek bravely returned to the Oakland A's clubhouse and will likely be a part of the team's ALDS roster against Detroit when it's announced on Saturday.
The righty reliever and his wife Stephanee experienced one of the worst possible tragedies on Wednesday when their son Gehrig John died 23 hours after birth. The world learned of the sad news via a tweet from Neshek that requested prayers for his family.
Neshek told the media at Comerica Park on Friday that the outpouring of sympathy and support on social media has helped his family cope with the still unexplained death. He said the birth of his son "was the best day I ever had" and that he'd go through it all again just for the short time he was able to spend with Gehrig. Neshek also said that he feels "so myself when I'm on the field" and returned to the team at his wife's suggestion. Stephanee Neshek also made the trip.
"The first thing she said is we need to get out of here and watch baseball, and that was fine with me," he said. "I wanted to be with her and I wanted to by her to get through this."
Neshek said that doctors never were able to determine a cause of death, but there will be an autopsy. He had gone home to watch the A's game on television and, he said, "I got a call in the fifth inning and Stephanee said, 'The baby stopped breathing.' It was really hard. We sat all night. We didn't know what to do."
Neshek decided to post on Twitter that Gehrig John had died because they had continued to get congratulatory texts and tweets, "and that really hurt," he said.
The AL West champion A's begin a best-of-five series against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday afternoon. Neshek was acquired by Oakland in early August and put together a 1.37 ERA in just over 19 innings of work for an A's bullpen that ranked fourth in the major leagues.
"I don't think we will ever get over it, but this is a good way to put the pieces back together," Neshek said.
As Susan Slusser said on Twitter, everyone in baseball is going to be rooting for Neshek whenever he enters the ALDS. And rightfully so.