Tampa Bay Rays closer and USC alum Brad Boxberger returned to the place where his professional career began last night. Boxberger, a first-time All-Star, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds with 43rd pick in the 2009 MLB Draft.
However, he never got to pitch at Great American Ball Park as he was one the pieces that the Reds sent to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Matt Latos during the 2011 MLB Winter Meetings.
After two years with the Padres, Boxberger was again on the move, this time heading to Florida to play for the Rays. As a set-up reliever in 2014 Boxberger was stellar, striking out 104 batters in 64.2 innings as he went 5-2 with a 2.37 era.
Entering 2015, Boxberger was again going to be the set-up reliever behind closer Jake McGee but then McGee started the season on the disabled list and Boxberger was named the closer. As the closer for the second-place Rays, the former USC standout is third in the American league with 23 saves and was chosen for the All-Star Game by AL Manager Ned Yost. Boxberger has a 3.25 era with 48 strikeouts in 36 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .218 batting average. McGee is back off the disabled list but Boxberger remains the team's closer.
Although he did not pitch, Boxberger told MLB.com's Paul Hagan after the game that "he was ready to pitch" in the second inning even though the starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel got out of the jam.
Boxberger became the 67th USC alum to appear in the Mid-Summer Classic and will help try to lead his team back to the playoffs after missing out in 2014.