Davey Johnson talked about 2011 Washington Nationals' All-Star reliever Tyler Clippard being available late in Saturday afternoon's game with the Cincinnati Reds, joking that he'd gotten the right-hander up in the bullpen when Edwin Jackson, who was six outs away from a complete game two-hitter, issued a four-pitch leadoff walk in the eighth. Johnson told reporters he'd found himself nervously repeating, "'Get Clip up. Get Clip up,'" but then after watching as Jackson retired the next three batters in order, striking all three out on 15 pitches, the manager said he asked himself, "'Why did I get Clip up?'"
The Nats' 27-year-old set-up man started the 2012 campaign with two scoreless innings in the series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field, he pitched an inning of relief at Citi Field against the New York Mets, in which he gave up a hit, a walk and run in a 6-2 Nationals' win and he surrendered a hit and recorded two K's in the eighth inning of Thursday's home opener with Cincinnati.
Sunday afternoon in the only loss of the Nats' four-game set with the Reds, Clippard, a Yankees' '03 9th Round pick acquired by Washington in a December '07 trade that sent reliever Jonathan Albaladejo to New York, gave up four hits total, two of them broken bat hits and one a hard-hit two-run double to left by the Reds' first baseman Joey Votto in the eleventh inning of what was a 5-5 game before Cincinnati broke the tie. Clippard gave up three runs total, threw 21 pitches, 14 for strikes and took the loss. The Nationals had effectively avoided Reds' slugger Joey Votto twice earlier in the game, but the leadoff and one-out singles Clippard surrendered forced him to pitch to Votto, who took a 2-0 pitch to left over Mark DeRosa's head to drive in the go-ahead runs.
After the game, Davey Johnson got everyone's attention when he mentioned in the post game press conference that he'd, "... tried to stay off [Clippard]," explaining, "I had him warmed up last night and he's had a little bit of arm discomfort." The manager said he'd spoken to the right-hander who said he, "... was okay today," and told him he, "... would only use him in an emergency," which he eventually had to do in the eleventh. Asked specifically what had been bothering Clippard, Johnson said it was his shoulder, but added, "From what I gather he has it every Spring, at the end of Spring, this has kind of lingered a little longer. Yesterday he had a little trouble getting loose, but today he said he felt fine."
Johnson said he thought Clippard had thrown the ball "fine" in today's outing in spite of the results and Clippard assured reporters as quoted by NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman in a post game article entitled, "Blown calls, missed opportunities", that as Johnson had said, "'It's just normal stuff I've been going through, stuff I've been going through my whole career... Nothing out of the ordinary. I felt good today. I've felt good every outing.'" You'll forgive Nationals fans if there's some consternation on their part when they hear the manager talking about Clippard's shoulder bothering him after the way Michael Morse and Drew Storen's stories played out early this season, but as they explained, neither the pitcher or the manager seem too concerned.