Clippard ready to mentor D-backs' young relievers

Clippard ready to mentor D-backs' young relievers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Coming off a season in which he had a 2.92 ERA, 19 saves and a World Series appearance, you'd think the free-agent market would have been kinder to Tyler Clippard. But as the offseason progressed, more and more relievers came off the board, leaving Clippard without a dance partner as the lights were starting to come on at the bar.

Then on Feb. 8, about a week before pitchers and catchers reported to camp, the bespectacled righty inked a two-year, $12.25 million deal with the D-backs.

"We eventually got there," Clippard said. "There were definitely some periods of time where it was frustrating, stressful and not really knowing what was going to happen."

Resolving his free agency took longer than Clippard had hoped, but in the end, the frustration was worth it.

"Maybe some of it was in my own head -- the process, the market, whatever," Clippard said. "Every year, free agency takes on a life of its own, and the market's different. You just have to roll with that."

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Clippard has been on the move multiple times in his career, getting traded three times since making his Major League debut with the Yankees in 2007. So when he hit free agency after last season, he was pleased to finally get to pick his team.

The 31-year-old formulated a list of teams with which he'd like to sign. The D-backs were at the top of it.

"They were probably No. 1," Clippard said. "Looking at the landscape of teams as far as their needs, whether or not those teams would be competitive, which is very important to me, I felt like Arizona was such a good fit."

Clippard said he liked the D-backs for a number of reasons, including the youth in the bullpen. He named Brad Ziegler and Daniel Hudson as veterans on the squad, but a lot of innings last year came from pitchers like Randall Delgado and Andrew Chafin, who were both 25 years old and combined for 147 innings.

"You look at that and think, 'I can definitely add something to that team,'" Clippard said. "They were definitely a team early on I wanted to follow through with."

Stewart on addition of Clippard

Clippard started last season with the Athletics and was traded midseason to the eventual National League champion Mets. It was his first time pitching in the World Series. Having a player with that experience is something D-backs pitchers say is a plus.

"It's always important," Delgado said. "I hope we are looking forward to getting to the postseason, and it's going to be a good benefit for that."

Delgado began his career as a starter in the Braves' organization, but he transitioned to the bullpen. Same for Hudson, who worked his way back from two Tommy John surgeries to establish himself as a back-end option for Arizona.

Like Delgado, Hudson feels the D-backs can draw from Clippard's experience.

"He's pitched in big situations like that, and that's obviously somewhere we all want to be," Hudson said. "If we get to that point, he's got that experience, and I'm sure he'd be more than willing to talk about that experience. And we can pick his brain a little bit about pitching in the World Series and getting those big outs late in the game."

Justin Emerson is a graduate student pursuing a masters degree in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.