Clippard to fill in for Doolittle as A's closer

Clippard to fill in for Doolittle as A's closer

MESA, Ariz. -- The goggle-wearing, funky-throwing Tyler Clippard will assume the role of interim A's closer in place of the injured Sean Doolittle at season's start.

A's manager Bob Melvin made the announcement, expected for weeks, on Friday morning.

"I like his mix of pitches, and he's able to attack hitters a little bit differently if he needs to," said Melvin. "Guys who are setup guys that come in with guys on base, a lot of times, to an extent, they're doing the toughest job, and he's been doing that successfully for quite a while."

The right-hander doesn't come without closing experience, either, having totaled 32 saves for Washington in 2012.

"That always factors in," said Melvin.

Clippard, 30, arrived in Oakland by trade from the Nationals in January. He was a fan favorite in Washington, where he made the transition from starter to All-Star reliever, twice earning a trip to the Midsummer Classic (2011, 2014). His extreme durability is backed by the numbers -- at least 72 appearances in five straight seasons -- and he's succeeded in every job asked of him out of the bullpen, despite lacking overpowering stuff.

Clippard's got a plus-changeup, which is why his eyes have followed relievers with good ones. "[Trevor]] Hoffman, in his prime, probably threw a little bit harder than I do, but he had a good changeup, so I've always admired him and what he was able to do in his career," Clippard said.

Otherwise, the quirky Clippard, he of a 2.88 ERA in eight big-league seasons, is seemingly incomparable.

"No, which I kinda like," he said. "Hopefully I've been able to kind of carve out my own little niche and what I like to do, and what I'm capable of out there on the mound. I always look at guys that have good changeups. … I'm not a lot of flash, but hopefully I get it done."

"He's pretty unique," said Melvin. "You've got the goggles, the walk, the arm slot, the mix of pitches. You're always looking for guys you're kind of comparing to, whether current guys or players in the past, and he's a tough one to come up with a similar guy."

Melvin had more than one option when considering a temporary replacement for Doolittle, sidelined through at least April with a shoulder strain. But in hand-picking Clippard, he's able to keep right-hander Dan Otero and lefty Eric O'Flaherty affixed in setup roles.

Clippard marvels at the thrill of ninth-inning duties.

"I like having the game on the line and being the guy that the team can rely on to get the job done, day in and day out," he said. "For me, it's great for the fans to get into the game. But more importantly, I want my teammates to know, 'Clip's our guy. He can get it done.' And if I can prove that to these guys in this locker room, that's what it's all about to me."

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.