Jul 31, 2015, 6:38 PM EDT
NEW YORK — Tyler Clippard will get his first chance to face his former Nationals teammates on Friday night, as the Nats play at the New York Mets in a big weekend series.
Clippard was traded to the Mets on Monday from the Oakland Athletics, whom he was traded to by the Nats over the offseason. Now he finds himself back in the NL East and in the middle of a pennant race pitted against many of his closest friends.
Clippard chatted with reporters before Friday’s game and had some great stuff on his new team and thoughts on facing the Nationals. He touched on a variety of subjects, so I decided to display it in question-and-answer form…
On joining the Mets this week and being back in New York, where he began his career with the Yankees:
“I’m excited to be back here. It’s a different perspective, it’s NL baseball. A team that’s in the race, so I’m excited for that for sure.”
On the Nats trading for Jonathan Papelbon and moving Drew Storen, a close friend of Clippards, to the setup role:
“It was a little bit shocking. He didn’t really lose the job, it was just circumstantial as far as they wanted to improve their bullpen and they did that with the acquisition there. But he’s a professional, he’ll be fine. He’s been pitching great this year. I’ve been watching from afar and he’s probably thrown better than I’ve ever seen him throw it. With that being said, I don’t expect anything to change on that aspect of it. It is what it is, he’s a pro and he’s going to approach it that way.”
On what advice he would give Storen:
“They’re three games in the lead and they’re trying to win the pennant and he knows that. So, the advice is ‘keep going out there putting up zeroes and helping the team win.’ That’s all you can do as a player, so I’m sure that’s how he’s approaching it.”
On the fact he now plays for the Nats’ division rival:
“It’s going to be fun, man. I remember last year before the playoffs started we had an intrasquad game, so I got a chance to pitch against my own teammates then. There was a lot of trash talking and bets going around. You know, ‘if I strike you out, or if you hit a home run off me,’ this and that. A lot of bragging rights involved in this series for me and them, too. The competitive side of it is going to be a lot of fun. When I get the ball in my hand, I’m going to try to get them out. For me, hopefully I can put up a zero and brag a little bit…
“I faced Werth, got a hundred bucks off of him. I struck him out. Harp, he grounded out to second. Desi, I walked him unfortunately. Those are the three that stand out. I think I had bets with all three of those guys, so that’s why I remember it. It’s going to be fun. I spent a lot of time with those guys. They’re good friends. I’m looking forward to trying to one-up them.”
On if he still wants to be a closer:
“Yeah, it’s one of those things where I feel like I’ve done a lot of different roles in my career out of the bullpen. I’ve proven that I can handle pretty much any of those roles. At this point in my career, I feel like universally throughout the league the teams out there realize that I’m an asset, regardless if that means pitching the eighth, seventh, ninth; whatever it is. I realize there is a business-side of this, too. At this point, I’m just happy to be the guy that people think I am. Whatever inning I’m throwing, I’m going to do that job and that’s kind of my approach at this point.”
On his time in Oakland this season:
“I enjoyed it, man. I was really happy that they gave me the opportunity to be a closer over there. I fought hard for a long time to get those opportunities and they gave me a chance. I was happy that they did that. It was fun for me to get that opportunity over there for the first four months of the year.”
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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