GOODYEAR Ariz. -- The Indians have had their eye on Tyler Clippard for a while, but it wasn’t until Saturday that the right-hander donned Cleveland’s uniform.
”I’ve been talking to Cleveland and [general manager] Mike [Chernoff] for the last two offseasons a lot, and we finally got something done,” Clippard said. “It’s nice to finally get over here, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve heard great things about the organization so far. I’ve met a lot of people, it’s been great so far, so I'm looking forward to it.”
The Indians have added a few veteran names to their Spring Training camp through non-roster invitations, including outfielder Matt Joyce, utility man Ryan Flaherty and relievers Alex Wilson and Clippard. While it might be a new role for someone like Wilson, Clippard is entering his second consecutive season on a Minor League contract.
”Definitely didn’t think that I was going to come into camp on a Minor League deal this year,” Clippard said. “I had to do it last year; didn’t think I was gonna have to, but I didn’t have a great year, so I was like, ‘OK.’ I felt like I did good enough work last year to warrant a big league contract, but it is what it is. I think I have enough confidence in myself that that kind of stuff isn’t that relevant. I’m going to be ready to go no matter what. It was just more of a principle thing than anything else.”
Last season with Toronto, Clippard logged a 3.67 ERA in 73 appearances and recorded 85 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings. Although Clippard didn’t get the deal he thought he deserved, Indians manager Terry Francona has made it clear that the term “non-roster” means nothing when it comes to competing for a roster spot.
“It’s just one of those things. [Francona] wants us to be ready for the season, and I think that’s a great message,” Clippard said. “Just be vocal in how you’re feeling and just be ready. And that’s, I think, the appropriate way to approach the season as a whole no matter what. Just use Spring Training as a preparation tool to be ready for Opening Day.”
Clippard brings durability to an Indians bullpen that may be looking for some consistency this season. Over his 12-year career, he’s recorded a 3.16 ERA and averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings. Because of his numbers, Clippard said he’s slightly surprised that Cleveland will be his ninth Major League team.
“I guess maybe surprised a little bit from the standpoint of I feel like I’ve done good work wherever I’ve gone and been a good piece for all the teams I’ve been on,” Clippard said. “But also not surprising from the standpoint of that’s the life of a reliever.
”A big league reliever, you’re going to bounce around. Unless you sign a three- or four-year deal, which in this day in age isn't gonna happen if you’re a reliever, you’re gonna just get traded if you’re on a team that needs some pieces. That’s how it goes. It’s not surprising from that standpoint.”