Clippard ready to perform whatever role A's need
MESA, Ariz. -- Tyler Clippard's career to this point has flourished on durability. The new A's reliever pitched in at least 72 games in each of the last five seasons for Washington, and in a variety of roles. So forgive him for not being too concerned about the one he's assigned in Oakland.
"Whatever role they want me to do, I will do wholeheartedly and embrace," Clippard said Thursday. "I think any good bullpen in the big leagues has multiple guys who can close, and I think we have that here, so I'm excited to be a part of that group."
Clippard surely stands out as the favorite among a group of potential temporary replacements for closer Sean Doolittle (left shoulder) to begin the season. That group also includes left-hander Eric O'Flaherty and right-handers Ryan Cook and Dan Otero. For now, Clippard is too busy getting to know his new teammates. And Clippard's new manager, Bob Melvin, is in no rush to make a decision on the matter.
"We have several guys that have closed," said Melvin. "I'm not going to say right now that [Clippard] is the closer, but he's definitely a guy we're looking to potentially be the guy coming out in the ninth."
Clippard's stamina derives from both genetics and an intense offseason workout routine, he said, noting he's already equipped with the flexibility that most pitchers work all winter to gain. His 371 appearances since 2010 are most in the Majors, as are his innings pitched (393 1/3) in that span.
The 30-year-old assumed he was safe to prepare for a seventh straight season with the Nationals in January, and then the A's came calling, adding him to an already formidable bullpen in a deal for shortstop Yunel Escobar.
"It was just a whirlwind," Clippard said. "There were some rumors out there, and I kind of thought I was out of the woods there for a minute, because I was starting to go through the negotiation process during arbitration, and then I get a call from my agent saying a trade's probably going to go down. Then the Internet blows up on me and it's happening, and the next thing you know, I'm talking to Billy [Beane] and Bob [Melvin]. My world just kind of got flipped upside down in a matter of hours.
"Watching the A's from afar, they seem like a hard-nosed group of guys that likes to have fun and play the game hard. For me, that fits my personality. I'm very laid back, I like to have fun, but when I lace them up and get between the lines, I'm a hard-nosed guy."
And seemingly one with plenty of knowledge to pass down the line.
"I think I have a lot to bring to the table, a lot of experience, but at the same time, I'm a big believer in learning from everybody," Clippard said. "First and foremost, I want to learn names and where people are from, and just go from there, and then we can get to the baseball stuff when the baseball stuff comes. It's like going to school for the first time at 30 years old. It's a good energy to have. It kind of refocuses you, motivates you, and I'm excited for it."