OAKLAND – From his perch in the A’s home bullpen, Tyler Clippard is much closer to the mound than he ever was in the Washington Nationals’ ballpark.
He just wonders when he’ll get to make the walk to that mound.
Clippard, the A’s interim closer while Sean Doolittle is out, is the only reliever on Oakland’s active roster not to have appeared in any of the first three games. He’s itching to get in a game with his new team.
“I threw a little 10-pitch side yesterday off the mound. That helped,” Clippard said before Thursday’s game against Texas. “You keep your body ready. Once you’re in there, it’s fine. It’s just the anticipation more than anything.”
Clippard’s last outing came in a one-inning stint in Friday’s exhibition at San Francisco, and manager Bob Melvin said it’s a priority to get him in Thursday’s series finale against the Rangers.
“Today is probably a day I try to get him in there regardless,” Melvin said. “Anytime you get to five days it starts to get a little uncomfortable.”
Clippard spent the past seven seasons with Washington until the A’s acquired him in January for shortstop Yunel Escobar. At Nationals Park, the home bullpen was tucked behind the right field fence. Fans sitting above the bullpen could peek inside but couldn’t really interact with relievers.
It’s a different scene at the Coliseum, where the bullpens are just down the third and first base lines, and fans are sitting directly behind the relievers.
“The bullpen is kind of different because we’re right there with the fans,” Clippard said. “They’ve been very nice, said nice things to me when I’m down there. I’m just excited to get back in there.”
Catcher Stephen Vogt is the No. 2 hitter Thursday, the fourth player to bat in that spot in four games. The first three games saw Sam Fuld, Eric Sogard and Cody Ross occupy the spot.
“That’s a spot we’re trying to find who the right guy will be,” Melvin said.
The A’s often alternate their batting order in left-right format, but because the Rangers have no lefties in their bullpen, Melvin said he felt good stacking two lefties up top with leadoff man Sam Fuld and Vogt.
The Rangers claimed outfielder Alex Hassan off waivers from the A’s and sent him to Triple-A.