Jul 12, 2011, 12:17 AM EDT
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Tyler Clippard and Joel Hanrahan have each enjoyed career renaissances this season.
PHOENIX — It was the final week of June 2009, and the Washington Nationals were — to put it bluntly — a disaster.
Thirty games under .500. The bullpen, statistically, ranked as the worst in big-league history. The pitching coach had been fired, and the manager was probably going to be next.
In the clubhouse, Joel Hanrahan was miserable. The Nationals’ first-time closer boasted a 7.71 ERA, five blown saves and three losses. All around him, he saw fellow relievers getting demoted or released, and he new his time was coming as well.
“It was tough for me to go to the park sometimes,” he said. “I’d be sitting at my locker wondering: ‘Alright, they just sent down three guys. How am I still here? What’s next? Am I going to get sent down tomorrow? Am I going to get released tomorrow? When’s my day coming? … How am I still surviving this?'”
A few hours to the north in Syracuse, Tyler Clippard was wondering about his future as well. The right-hander had been following what was transpiring on the big club, especially in that wretched bullpen, and he
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