D-backs shutting down Clippard for 6 weeks

Veteran right-hander dealing with capsule strain in right shoulder

March 21st, 2021

D-backs reliever Tyler Clippard has revealed he has a capsule sprain in his right shoulder and will be shut down for six weeks.

“I've never been on the injured list in my career, never had a serious injury, and I do now, so it's frustrating,” Clippard said before Sunday’s 4-4 tie against the White Sox. “I pride myself on being that guy that's been healthy, and now, I'm not, so I’m bummed.”

On Friday, the 36-year-old Clippard walked off the mound against the Brewers without retiring any of the seven hitters he faced. He allowed a double, single, walk, home run, single and a hit batter before leaving with a 3-0 count on his last batter. He said he has experienced aches and pains during his career, especially during Spring Training, but this time, his arm felt different.

“My arm just felt weak,” Clippard said. “Obviously, my velo was down, the ball wasn’t coming out and I didn’t really know where it was going. There were a lot of weird factors in this situation and things I hadn’t felt before. But as far as pain level goes, it really wasn’t that painful at all. It was just kind of a weird feeling is the best I can describe it.”

Clippard was on track to join right-hander Joakim Soria as one of the club’s back-end relievers, possibly in the setup role. Clippard's absence opens up another spot in a bullpen competition that is already wide open.

“It’s a tough blow, but once again, we are going to find somebody that will step into that role and get the job done,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We have guys that are more than capable of stepping up and getting the job done. Who they are? We are still evaluating. It’s awful news for Clip. We hurt for him, and he’s going to heal, but it’s an opportunity for someone to jump in there.”

Stefan Crichton, Alex Young and Chris Devenski have put themselves in a good position to make the bullpen, but pitchers like Yoan López, Kevin Ginkel, Taylor Clarke and Taylor Widener are also making a push. It’s worth noting that the makeup of the bullpen will depend on which pitchers the D-backs want to keep stretched out as starting depth in the Minors. Widener and Clarke have both pitched as starters in the past.

Dating back to 2010, Clippard has appeared in at least 67 games every year except for ‘19 (53 games for Cleveland) and the shortened ‘20 season (26 games for Minnesota). The D-backs signed him on Feb. 26 to a one-year, $2.25 million contract, with a mutual option for 2022 worth $3.5 million.

“I’m going to do everything I can to get better tomorrow, but I think, ultimately, where we sit right now is that I’m getting shut down for six weeks,” Clippard said. “That’s a target date, and then when we get to that six-week timeframe, we’ll probably have more information after that as far as how I’m feeling, how I’m healing and things like that. To sit here and speculate anything after that is pointless.”

Bumgarner channels Cueto in 'B' game
Madison Bumgarner used a “B” game against the Angels on a back field at Salt River Fields to add a wrinkle that could benefit his “A” game come the regular season.

The veteran left-hander channeled his inner Johnny Cueto by changing his arm angles, practicing a quick pitch and making small changes in an effort to disrupt hitters. He stopped short of employing the Cueto mound wiggle.

“I played with Johnny, and he’s the best at it,” Bumgarner said. “I feel like I have a good enough feel that I can do that stuff. … Honestly, I think it makes too much sense not to do it if you can do it. I don’t know where we go from this, but it’s something I will be playing with.”

Bumgarner was originally scheduled to pitch against the White Sox on Sunday, but he asked to pitch in the “B” game so he could work on a few things. He said the changes in his delivery did not negatively impact his velocity or location.

“I don't know if it was just because it was so new, but I thought it went pretty good and it ended up feeling better as the game went on, too," Bumgarner said.

Lovullo liked what he saw from Bumgarner on Sunday morning and was overall pleased with the starter’s outing.

“He’s going to be able to disrupt leg kicks, loads and sight lines,” Lovullo said. “It changes the entire package and the entire equation. When and how effectively he pulls it out, we are not sure, but it’s something he has worked on. We saw it play out today, and it’s something that will get him big outs when needed.”

D-backs general manager Mike Hazen was among the group watching Bumgarner and was coy about what he saw on the back field. He said that Zack Greinke always seemed to show up to Spring Training with a new twist to his repertoire during his time in Arizona.

"We appreciate that pitchers at that level of experience are consistently trying to improve themselves," Hazen said on Sunday's FOX Sports Arizona broadcast. "I think that's a separator for guys as they gain experience in the game."

Asked about the possibility of going “Full Cueto” on the mound, Bumgarner chuckled.

“I don't know if I'll go that far,” Bumgarner said. “I'm not planning on that just yet.”

Clarke impresses
Taylor Clarke continues to make a push for a spot on the D-backs' pitching staff.

What role the versatile Clarke serves in is still to be determined. But here’s what we know: The right-hander allowed two hits in four scoreless innings against the White Sox on Sunday. He struck out two and didn't issue a walk in his fourth outing and first start of Cactus League play. He threw 49 pitches, including only six in the third.

Ahmed on track
D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed hit his first home run of the spring Sunday and said he doesn’t expect his 10-day layoff earlier this month to keep him from being ready for Opening Day.

“Spring Training is long for a position player. It’s more for a pitcher to get built up and things like that,” Ahmed said during the FOX Sports Arizona broadcast. “I would be fine if Spring Training was two weeks shorter, just to be perfectly honest. We are here for the pitchers, especially early in camp. I’m going to get plenty of at-bats and plenty of reps defensively. I’m going to be fine.”

Ahmed had been dealing with tendinitis in his right patella, but he has a plan to manage the knee and keep him in the lineup. He added, “It’s not perfect, but it has gotten a lot better.”

“You are never 100 percent,” Ahmed said. “You play a 162-game season and you are never going to feel perfect out there, so I’m used to dealing with little bangs and stuff here and there. You just try to work through them the best you can.”

Up next
Right-hander Zac Gallen will get the start Monday when the D-backs travel to Mesa to take on the A’s at 1:05 p.m. MST. J.B. Bukauskas and Luis Frías are also scheduled to pitch for Arizona. Jesús Luzardo is scheduled to start for Oakland, with A.J. Puk, Deolis Guerra, Lou Trivino and Jordan Weems also slated to pitch for the A’s.