PP Exclusive: Q&A with Tyler Clippard

"I can guarantee a lot of heart when I pitch."

Tyler Clippard is off to another great start here in the 2005 season with the Tampa Yankees as he continues to move up the prospect charts. We caught up with Tyler as we discuss his season thus far, adjustments made, his future, and much more in this PinstripesPlus.com exclusive.

PinstripesPlus: What, to you, has been the most significant difference between the Midwest League and the Florida State League?

Tyler Clippard: Well pitching, I think, will always be pitching and if you make pitches you will succeed. But, the biggest difference is that the hitters are a little more disciplined at the plate which they should be. But, overall I haven't seen a huge difference.

PinstripesPlus: What is one thing that you would like to adjust as the season goes on?

Tyler Clippard: As of right now, I think mechanically I'm pretty close to where I want to be. Basically, I want to do what I have always tried to do and that is to be consistent. Right now, my walks are up a little so I want to lower those, but adjustments are made every time you go out there. They're usually minor so it's hard to pinpoint exactly one.

PinstripesPlus: What do you think is the biggest difference in you between last year and this year?

Tyler Clippard: Well, my curveball is a lot better, and mechanically I feel a little different but it was a change that has helped a lot, and my velocity is consistently a little higher.

PinstripesPlus: In your mind, do you think there is a chance you could pitch in AA this season?

Tyler Clippard: Yeah, definitely. I just need to perform good, obviously, and show enough maturity that the Yankees think I can handle AA.

PinstripesPlus: Do you think you are where you want to be with your command with all your pitches right now?

Tyler Clippard: It depends on the day. (laughing) No, I certainly need to improve. I don't think anyone who plays this game is where they want to be. I mean, I would love to be perfect but I know that's not realistic. But, all I want is consistency out of myself with all my pitches. Right now, I'm close but I will always need to improve.

PinstripesPlus: Out of all your pitching teammates, who impresses you the most? You can pick more than one if you like.

Tyler Clippard: I think Jason Jones has the best command, but he doesn't have over powering stuff. Jeff Kennard is the dirtiest on the team and he throws the hardest. I've been impressed with him. Danny Borrell's changeup was the best I've ever seen, and DePaula's is pretty dirty as well. I've seen great things out of a lot of guys on our team, but I think Kennard has impressed me the most because of his velocity and his cutter.

PinstripesPlus: In your mind, what do you think is the biggest key to your success as you move to higher levels?

Tyler Clippard: I think developing my changeup to a plus pitch has helped me more than I ever thought it could like two years ago. Yeah, it is definitely my changeup.

PinstripesPlus: Would you say that you are comfortable with what you have in your repertoire now?

Tyler Clippard: Yeah, definitely.

PinstripesPlus: You've had a lot of strikeouts this year to start off. Would you call yourself a strikeout pitcher for the long haul or would you say that, as you move up, you'll be more of a contact pitcher?

Tyler Clippard: That's hard to say. I'm not sure. I know AA is the biggest jump in baseball so I'll be able to tell more when I get there. But, I'm not worried about that really because I just want to be successful my whole career but strikeouts are sure fun to get. But, ultimately it's the icing on the cake.

PinstripesPlus: Does it ever occur to you how rare it is to be at such a high level at such a young age?

Tyler Clippard: At times it does. But, I feel like I belong so I'm ok with it, obviously. (laughing)

PinstripesPlus: There have been some comparison in style between you and Mike Mussina. What do you say to that comparison?

Tyler Clippard: I'm flattered. I mean, to be compared to a guy like that who has been successful in the big leagues, that's awesome. I'm not real sure if we pitch alike or not, but that is definitely a compliment.

PinstripesPlus: Do you think pitching close to home in Tampa has helped you in any way?

Tyler Clippard: Yeah, it's helped but not too drastically. I love pitching in front of my friends, especially the ones who don't get how baseball works. Now, they can actually see me. Some of them think that they're going to turn on the TV and see me. So, when they see me playing in uniform they're probably like "hey, he really does play." (laughing)

PinstripesPlus: You worked out just about all off season at the Tampa Complex. How much do you think that has helped you this season?

Tyler Clippard: Well it's hard to say how much because I've always been someone who has worked out. But, I know if I didn't do it, I wouldn't be capable of some of the things I'm doing right now. And, ultimately it's definitely helped keeping me healthy. I see guys who didn't do much in the offseason who are throwing slower and breaking down and stuff and that kind of stuff just makes me realize how important it was for me to do that.

PinstripesPlus: Do you have any sort of feel of what is ultimately expected from you by the Yankee organization?

Tyler Clippard: Yeah, Nardi Contreras wants me to pitch in the big leagues. He's been great helping me out. I mean, that's his job and he's good at it. He has helped me out a lot.

PinstripesPlus: If you wanted to tell Yankee fans one thing, what would you tell them that they can expect from you if you were to be a Yankee?

Tyler Clippard: Wow, I guess that if I were to become a Yankee, I could guarantee a lot of heart when I pitch. I'm dedicated and I love the game.

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