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Clippard on avoiding arbitration, retiring Jeter

Feb 14, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

Associated Press Associated Press

VIERA, Fla. — Tyler Clippard was prepared to go to arbitration with the Nationals but was much happier Monday when the two sides managed to work out a $5.875 million contract and avoid next week’s hearing altogether.

“It was stressing me out,” the reliever said. “I didn’t even think I could stress out over stuff, and I was stressing out over it. I’m just glad it got resolved and both sides are happy with how everything went down. Now we can just focus on playing the game, and that’s all I care about.”

Clippard is entering his third of four seasons of arbitration eligibility — he qualified as a “Super 2″ player in 2012 — and for awhile it appeared he might be headed to a formal hearing when he and the Nationals found themselves nearly $2 million apart.

Ultimately, he settled for a salary figure well above the midpoint of the two competing offers and a nice raise from his $4 million salary of last season. He does face one more winter of this process before he can become a free agent, though the right-hander suggested the topic of a multi-year extension has been broached.

“During those types of situations, you try to feel out all the different scenarios so everyone can feel happy,” he said. “Those discussions, they happened. I wasn’t on the phone. It was my agent and them, and whether or not there was some validity to that … we were just trying to get a deal done that both sides were happy with.”

Clippard comes to his seventh spring training with the Nationals as established as ever, one of the most consistent and reliable relievers in baseball. He has come a long way from his early days with the Yankees, where he once was a starting prospect before getting traded to Washington in Dec. 2007 for obscure reliever Jonathan Albaladejo.

Clippard hasn’t thought of himself as a Yankee in quite some time, but he has maintained a relationship with at least prominent former teammate from the Bronx: Derek Jeter, who this week announced he will retire at season’s end. The two work out in the same Tampa facility during the offseason.

“I’ve gotten to know him there, and I’ve played with him, too,” Clippard said. “So I’ve seen both sides of him. He’s unwavering, never changes. Great guy. He’ll talk to anybody without hesitation. And for a guy who is as famous as he is, and is as big of a name as he is, to be as down to earth and humble and receiving of all types of people, it’s cool to watch. I’m never going to be on his level, but to emulate some of the things that he does in his life, I would like to try to do.”

Clippard won’t ever match Jeter’s legacy, but he does have the opportunity to brag to his workout pal about the one and only time they’ve encountered each other on the field.

Jeter stepped to the plate to face Clippard on June 16, 2012 at Nationals Park, in the ninth inning of a 3-3 game, with one out and the go-ahead runner on second base. Clippard recalls every ensuing detail…

“I fell behind him 2-0, and I threw a changeup, and I thought the umpire called it a ball, but he called it a strike,” he said.” So in my mind, it was 3-0, and the catcher called [another] changeup. And I’m like: ‘OK. Jeter. I mean, why not?’ So I threw a 3-0 changeup, and I think it was a called strike. And I’m like: ‘OK. 3-1.’ And I threw a fastball a little up in the zone, and he swung and missed at it. And he started walking back to the dugout, and I’m like: ‘I struck him out! What the heck happened there?'”

Clippard, still not entirely sure how he had the count screwed up in his head, mentioned the at-bat to Jeter that winter when they were working out in Tampa.

“I don’t think he even remembered it,” he said with a laugh. “So that’s how significant it was for him.”

  1. tcostant - Feb 14, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    What a difference 5 years make. Attached is the 2009 roster and all that is left are two Zimmerman(n)s, Det, Stammen and Clip.

    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teamstats/roster.php?y=2009&t=WS0

    • tcostant - Feb 14, 2014 at 4:19 PM

      And Desi for under 100 at bats…

  2. Section 222 - Feb 14, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    So two years ago, Chipper Jones retired. Last year Mariano Rivera, and now Jeter. All will have their final season tours with gifts and tributes and tears and blah blah blah.

    Am I a bad person for not caring one bit about Derek Jeter?

    • tcostant - Feb 14, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      No doesn’t make you a bad person, but said two Yankees and a Brave. Did you care about Cal’s or Davey’s farewell tour?

      • Section 222 - Feb 14, 2014 at 4:59 PM

        Cal’s no. I was a Pirate fan in those days, not an O’s fan. Davey’s? Did Davey have a farewell tour? You mean last year? Sorry, must’ve missed that. :-)

        So the fans of the retired guy like the farewell tours I’m sure. But I’ll bet the the fans of the opposing teams generally don’t. i’m glad we’re not hosting the Yankees this year.

      • tcostant - Feb 14, 2014 at 5:05 PM

        I agree I could do without them, but you can’t cherry pick.

        Selig’s tour will bug me more than Jeter’s will, this year,

    • scnatsfan - Feb 14, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      Bad person? No way. But I think anyone who is a fan of baseball appreciates his accomplishments and how he has carried himself. I imagine every franchise wishes they could draft someone who means as much to their franchise.

      • Section 222 - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:04 PM

        Yeah, yeah, I know. Great player, great leader etc. etc. I just think these farewell tours are out of hand. Don’t seem to remember Mays or Aaron getting that kind of adoration. It’s out of control and takes attention away from the game in my view. MLB Network and ESPN will become even more Yankee-centric than they already are. Rocking chairs made of bats? Really?

      • unkyd59 - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:08 PM

        Remind me to stay off your lawn, Deuces, lol

    • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 15, 2014 at 6:50 AM

      I agree with you about farewell tours. I wouldn’t want RZ or any Nats to do it either.

  3. trochlis318 - Feb 14, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    really interesting article on Tanner Roark and what was related to his turn around as a pitcher, (heavily statistic orientated) basically what it says is the fact that Roark was able to get batters to swing at 55% of pitches that would be strikes caused the uptick in his performance, compares him to pitchers such as Vance Worley and Clayton Kershaw both of whom have ERA’s that outperform there FIP and xFIP like Roark.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/community/tanner-roarks-z-swing-and-related-observations/

    • tcostant - Feb 14, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      Tanner Roark was Greg Maddux light last year. I hope it just wasn’t due to small sample size…

      • dgourds - Feb 15, 2014 at 4:15 AM

        Thanks for the link to that fascinating analysis on Roark. BTW, if Roark continues what he did last year, Maddox is going to be thought of as Roark lite! Roark’s numbers for 52 innings and 14 appearances were just STUPID! I’m so excited to see what unfolds for him.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Feb 14, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      Thanks for that link. Two powerful quotes stood out:

      “… I do not see relationships among Roark’s 2013 statistics which point to trouble looking ahead. These statistics tell a consistent story of effectiveness.” and

      “Roark could go back at least one standard deviation on each of the ERA-like measures and still be at league average or better than league average. That’s a good position for any pitcher. It’s a great position, albeit a paradoxical one, for a pitcher who is currently slated to compete for no better than the 5th spot in the Washington Nationals’ 2014 starting rotation!!” (exclamation points in original).

      • pdowdy83 - Feb 14, 2014 at 6:08 PM

        That was a lot to take in in that article but it was a nice look inside Roark’s numbers.

        I am definitely pulling for him. I saw him pitch two times in 2011 and he looked like a completely different pitcher this year. When I saw him he wasn’t mixing pitches as well and seemed to only be throwing 2. His fastball also only sat at 89-90mph vs 92-93mph both times I saw him vs last year.

        I know there will be some regression because he isn’t Greg Maddux or Clayton Kershaw but any level of contribution at the big league level from him would be a big win for the Nats. I think he has a solid major league future as something very similar to Craig Stammen with a little more upside to stick in the rotation.

    • jd - Feb 14, 2014 at 5:49 PM

      It’s a very good article if you are statistically inclined and it arrives at a fairly optimistic conclusion about his chances to continue pitching at a very high quality level.Really the basis of the article is that even though 53 innings is a small sample size the level of consistency within that small sample size suggests that it’s not merely luck which was in play last year.

      Here’s hoping they are 100% right.

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