SALT LAKE CITY — Thursday marked the return to baseball for Salt Lake Bees players as they came back from the three-day All-Star break.
While his teammates spent three days resting, Salt Lake shortstop Shawn O'Malley was a busy man, as he represented the Bees at the Triple-A version of the midsummer classic in Durham, North Carolina.
"Overall it was a good time," O'Malley said. "I got to see some family and some friends that came, and spend three days with my fiancee, so it was nice."
The moment he arrived in the Bull City, O'Malley was on his way to the home run derby and his schedule never let up. Over the course of his stay he participated in signings, photo-ops, luncheons, dinners and eventually the game itself.
So was O'Malley jealous of his resting teammates?
"You know at first I was," he said. "But after experiencing everything and going back to Durham (where O'Malley played in 2012) I was fine. I got to see a lot of old teammates, and Charlie (Montoya), the manager there. It would have been nice to have three days of doing nothing, but at the same time if there's one place you want to be on your All-Star break it's there."
O'Malley drew a walk and scored in the Bees' 7-6 victory over Las Vegas Thursday, but another player outshined the All-Star, along with everyone else.
Salt Lake starter Wade LeBlanc went six innings, scattering four hits and allowing one run while striking out 11. It was just the 18th time in Salt Lake franchise history that a Bees pitcher struck out 11 or more.
Salt Lake ended up needing such a superb performance from its starter as the Bees bullpen gave up five runs in the eighth before finally holding on for the victory.
The small break served as a recharge for many of the players.
"Just a chance to not think about baseball for back-to-back-to-back days is huge," Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson said. "The day in and day out grind mentally is the one thing you can't get yourself prepared for fully, so those three days in the middle of the season are always a welcome (rest and relaxation) time"
For O'Malley the break served as a glimpse of what may be to come.
"It was a huge deal, it was awesome," O'Malley said of the All-Star experience. "Just tons of support. Even for the autograph signing, you thought it was maybe going to be a hundred people, but hundreds and hundreds of people came just to get autographs and take pictures. They did like a flyover. It was pretty much as big-league as you can get."
Bees 7, 51s 6
In short: Salt Lake survived a late rally from Las Vegas to hold on to victory Thursday night. Bee starter Wade LeBlanc pitched six innings and gave up one run, while striking out 11. The 51s rallied late, plating five in the eighth and getting the tying run in scoring position in the ninth, before Salt Lake was finally able to close the door.
Up next: Las Vegas at Salt Lake, Friday, 7:05 p.m.