Clay Continues to Develop

Caleb Clay's arm feels the best it has felt in more than four years. The former Red Sox first round pick suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery in 2007. In his second year with Portland the twenty-four year old Clay is worrying less about how is arm feels and more about developing as a pitcher.

"This is the best my arm has felt since I had surgery," Clay said. "It has been four years and my elbow feels great."

After the 2011 season ended in Portland, Clay was invited to play in the Arizona Fall League so his offseason did not begin until November. One of Clay's top priorities: resting his arm after an extended season of use.

"I only got two months off," he said. "I tried to use the first two weeks of that to rest and recuperate after throwing all year. This offseason I did the same stuff I have been doing, I just didn't go quite as heavy.

"I worked on flexibility more than anything. I gave my arm a little bit more time to rest before I started throwing and then came to Spring Training early in order to get into gear a little bit faster."

With a full season at Double-A under his belt, the experience at Fall Ball, and some hard work in the offseason, the coaching staff in Portland feel that Clay is developing nicely.

"We have pitched him toward the end of games as of late and he has done well," manager Kevin Boles said of the twenty-four year old. "He has been able to hold a couple of leads and again, he has got a different look to him.

"He has got some movement to his pitches. He is kind of interesting because he has got some room to fill out on that frame and the arm action is clean. It will be interesting to see what he is like in a couple of years."

Last year, in twenty-eight appearances [two of which were starts], Clay posted an ERA of 7.47 with a WHIP of 1.797. Through eleven games this year Clay's ERA is a more conservative 5.63 [up from 3.77 after being tagged for four runs against Binghamton on Saturday the 19th of May] and is an obvious sign of improvement.

"I've thrown pretty well so far," Clay opined. "There have been a couple of outings where I have left pitches out over the middle and obviously got hit up but overall I think I have thrown pretty well so far. I am just trying to keep it going and be as consistent as I can be."

So, what has changed from last year that has allowed for a little more success? According to Caleb Clay, it has been his ability to command all of his pitches. Without an overpowering high 90s fastball, Clay relies on his above average control to get batters out.

"My curveball is my least consistent pitch because it is the hardest to throw for a strike," said Clay, "but I am pretty much comfortable throwing a cutter, slider, or change at any count. I think that has helped me keep hitters off my fastball."

While Clay continues to improve, he is fully aware that there is more work to be done.

"I am still working on getting my velocity back this season and I think it is coming around. I am starting to feel a lot stronger."

Pitching Coach Bob Kipper spoke candidly of Clay.

"He is learning to compete at the professional level," Kipper said. "He hasn't necessarily reclaimed the velocity that we saw last year from, say, the middle part of May through the end of the year, but we have seen some outings recently that suggest that he is moving in the right direction. I think Caleb is a guy, right now that is committed to his career.

"The biggest thing with Caleb is just understanding the value of his fastball. Secondary pitches are certainly important because they allow you to do something very fundamental in pitching and that is to change speeds. That allows a pitcher to disrupt timing. But, by and large, his best pitch is going to be his fastball."

"I need to come out and work on my throwing program every day in order to be sound mechanically and build arm strength," Clay admitted. "I just want to be as consistent as I can.

"I want to get better at something every day. I am going to take it one day at a time, enjoy the season, and try to have some fun."


Diehard Magazine Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"This is the best my arm has felt since I had surgery,\" Clay said. \"It has been four years and my elbow feels great.\"
\r\n
\r\nAfter the 2011 season ended in Portland, Clay was invited to play in the Arizona Fall League so his offseason did not begin until November. One of Clay's top priorities: resting his arm after an extended season of use.
\r\n
\r\n\"I only got two months off,\" he said. \"I tried to use the first two weeks of that to rest and recuperate after throwing all year. This offseason I did the same stuff I have been doing, I just didn't go quite as heavy.
\r\n
\r\n\"I worked on flexibility more than anything. I gave my arm a little bit more time to rest before I started throwing and then came to Spring Training early in order to get into gear a little bit faster.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith a full season at Double-A under his belt, the experience at Fall Ball, and some hard work in the offseason, the coaching staff in Portland feel that Clay is developing nicely.
\r\n
\r\n\"We have pitched him toward the end of games as of late and he has done well,\" manager Kevin Boles said of the twenty-four year old. \"He has been able to hold a couple of leads and again, he has got a different look to him.
\r\n
\r\n\"He has got some movement to his pitches. He is kind of interesting because he has got some room to fill out on that frame and the arm action is clean. It will be interesting to see what he is like in a couple of years.\"
\r\n
\r\nLast year, in twenty-eight appearances [two of which were starts], Clay posted an ERA of 7.47 with a WHIP of 1.797. Through eleven games this year Clay's ERA is a more conservative 5.63 [up from 3.77 after being tagged for four runs against Binghamton on Saturday the 19th of May] and is an obvious sign of improvement.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've thrown pretty well so far,\" Clay opined. \"There have been a couple of outings where I have left pitches out over the middle and obviously got hit up but overall I think I have thrown pretty well so far. I am just trying to keep it going and be as consistent as I can be.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo, what has changed from last year that has allowed for a little more success? According to Caleb Clay, it has been his ability to command all of his pitches. Without an overpowering high 90s fastball, Clay relies on his above average control to get batters out.
\r\n
\r\n\"My curveball is my least consistent pitch because it is the hardest to throw for a strike,\" said Clay, \"but I am pretty much comfortable throwing a cutter, slider, or change at any count. I think that has helped me keep hitters off my fastball.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile Clay continues to improve, he is fully aware that there is more work to be done.
\r\n
\r\n\"I am still working on getting my velocity back this season and I think it is coming around. I am starting to feel a lot stronger.\"
\r\n
\r\nPitching Coach Bob Kipper spoke candidly of Clay.
\r\n
\r\n\"He is learning to compete at the professional level,\" Kipper said. \"He hasn't necessarily reclaimed the velocity that we saw last year from, say, the middle part of May through the end of the year, but we have seen some outings recently that suggest that he is moving in the right direction. I think Caleb is a guy, right now that is committed to his career.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest thing with Caleb is just understanding the value of his fastball. Secondary pitches are certainly important because they allow you to do something very fundamental in pitching and that is to change speeds. That allows a pitcher to disrupt timing. But, by and large, his best pitch is going to be his fastball.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I need to come out and work on my throwing program every day in order to be sound mechanically and build arm strength,\" Clay admitted. \"I just want to be as consistent as I can.
\r\n
\r\n\"I want to get better at something every day. I am going to take it one day at a time, enjoy the season, and try to have some fun.\"
\r\n
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