Sports Jays’ Clippard back in the zone

06:30  16 may  2018
06:30  16 may  2018 Source:   thestar.com

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Jays reliever Tyler Clippard was riding a string of 11 shutout appearances heading into Tuesday night’s date with the Mets in the Big Apple. In some ways it was. Back then, Clippard was a starting pitcher.

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Jays reliever Tyler Clippard was riding a string of 11 shutout appearances heading into Tuesday night’s date with the Mets in the Big Apple.© Rick Madonik Jays reliever Tyler Clippard was riding a string of 11 shutout appearances heading into Tuesday night’s date with the Mets in the Big Apple.

For Blue Jays fans, seeing Carlos Delgado’s name on the Level of Excellence at the Rogers Centre is sure to conjure good memories of the former all-star first baseman, who remains atop the franchise leaderboard in many offensive categories.

For Tyler Clippard, the sight of Delgado’s name on the facing of the 500 level is more personal. The 33-year-old right-hander, then a New York Yankee, made his major league debut against Delgado and the Mets on May 20, 2007.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays don't have an official closer, but veteran right-hander Tyler Clippard appears to be the preferred choice at the back end of the bullpen. Tyler Clippard whiffs Robinson Cano to secure his first save of the year in the Blue Jays ' 5-2 victory over the Mariners.

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Delgado went 0 for 4 that day. Clippard struck him out twice.

“The memories are very vivid of that moment in time for me,” Clippard said recently, “but it does feel like a long time ago … It seemed almost like a different era of baseball.”

In some ways it was. Back then, Clippard was a starting pitcher. He tossed six innings in that game. Later that season, he was traded to the Washington Nationals, who converted him to a reliever two years later. Clippard recalled that he wasn’t on board with the change, but Washington thought his arsenal would be a better fit for the bullpen.

Ultimately, the switch paid off.

“It really helped me learn a lot about pitching, about the game, the little nuances and intricacies that really help you become a better player and pitcher,” he said. “Looking back on it, I didn’t know how significant it was (at the time), but it helped me a lot.”

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Tyler Lee Clippard (born February 14, 1985) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB).

The Blue Jays have announced a minor-league deal with righty Tyler Clippard . Clippard worked in the zone just 40.6% of the time, a personal low Clippard , 31, is in his first season with the D- backs after signing a two-year, .25MM contract, so the Yankees will control him for this season and next.

The two-time all-star has experience in just about every bullpen role, from long to late relief. After a roller-coaster 2017 — “to say the least,” Clippard adds — that saw him bounce from another stint with the Yankees to the White Sox to the Astros, he says he feels reinvigorated thanks to some secret adjustments made in Houston last September that continue to pay dividends.

“There were periods of time where I felt like I pitched some of the best I’ve pitched in my career, and then there were times when I was just lost and really searching for anything and I couldn’t find it,” he said. “Usually I can. It was such a great learning process for me.

“I’ve been in the game so long, but you never have it figured out. That was kind of an awakening in a sense, which I think really will help me have a little bit more longevity than maybe I thought I could in this game.”

The Jays signed Clippard — who had 62 career saves through Monday — to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million U.S., and with regular closer Roberto Osuna on administrative leave following an assault charge, the club has a need in the ninth inning.

Clippard — with a microscopic 1.23 ERA after 11 straight scoreless outings — pitched the ninth inning in three of Toronto’s first six games without Osuna. He says he approaches every inning as if he’s in a save situation, and leans on his familiarity with the role when times get tough.

“Once you do it enough and you have that experience, it becomes a lot easier,” Clippard said, “and I have those experiences to fall back on.”

Blue Jays hold on to defeat Phillies 6-5 .
Blue Jays hold on to defeat Phillies 6-5Yangervis Solarte and Kevin Pillar added RBI doubles for the Blue Jays, who opened a nine-game road trip after going 1-6 and getting outscored 43-22 on a seven-game homestand against Oakland and the Angels.

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