Wednesday, February 12, 2014

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: CLAY RAPADA


I genuinely like Clay Rapada. He's a cool cat and a nice person and over the past year or so, we've chatted about baseball, the Yankees, food and Hello Kitty on Twitter. But mostly food.  For example, while out with my wife on Christmas night, Clay shot me this Tweet:
I called it #RAPADAFOODWARS on Twitter, and I retaliated, only to be dismissed... until we meet again.  Luckily for me, this meeting became an interview that I am happy to present to you now.  As Clay and I finished our conversation, he said, "Hope it's worthy." I replied, "Don't sell yourself short." Why? Because confidence is key and Clay has a bigger following than he thinks he does. Plus, on Bleeding Yankee Blue... we're Team Rapada here. We respect him because he respects us... and that's what it's all about.

I offer you now, our interview with my pal, Clay Rapada. Enjoy this... I did:


BYB: First off Clay, How are you feeling right now as we gear up to 2014. You signed a minor league deal with the Angels in the off-season. So what's the plan for getting back to the Bigs?

Clay Rapada: I feel great.  I had a good off-season with my personal trainer and had a mix of working out, shoulder program, and hot yoga.

BYB: Who were some of the guys that reached out to you when you agreed to terms with the Angels?

Clay Rapada: I got a couple texts from a few pitchers from the Yankees and some old teammates from the Cubs.


BYB: What was it like to be apart of the Yankees clubhouse. Who did you find yourself hanging with?

Clay Rapada: It is still shocking to know that I was apart of the richest franchise as far as championships in baseball history. Seriously still kinda shocking to me.  I hung out with Curtis Granderson since we had played together in Detroit for 3 years.


BYB: How was a guy like Derek Jeter in the Yankee clubhouse? Is he truly a team player?

Clay Rapada: He will go down as one of my top favorite teammates.


BYB: Please tell the BYB audience about the Hello Kitty picture that I break your chops about it so we can put it into context and end that bit. By the way, I appreciate you being such a cool cat when we break balls about it....


Clay Rapada: It was kind of an inside joke back home to some friends and ended up being a battle of wits with BYB.  But I have no problem shooting it back and forth as long as people stay light hearted about the whole thing.


BYB: I have always loved your delivery.  How did you develop your delivery to pitch side arm the way you do? Have you had arm trouble in the past because of it?

Clay Rapada: It has always been apart of my pitching style.  I just never did it full time until 2004.  And I have had a couple shoulder issues yes, but have been blessed to duck the knife.


BYB: Growing up, what pitchers did you idolize and why?

Clay Rapada: I was a huge fan of Greg Maddux.  He was a student of the game and was just not a guy who threw hard.  I think that is something the game has kind of lost.

BYB: When you finally went pro, do you get to meet Maddux and tell him that he was your idol or does that conversation never happen?

Clay Rapada: I did get to meet him in 2006, but the conversation never happened.


BYB: I first started to appreciate your talents on the Tigers. Tell me about that clubhouse and what was it like playing for a guy like Jim Leyland?

Clay Rapada: The Detroit clubhouse was unique because we had young talent and future Hall of Famers.  So we had a very mixed clubhouse.  Leyland is very old school and his leash is short.


BYB: Random question, but I'm asking because we fans all assume you players talk at some point, via text or phone calls.  Did you reach out to Joba Chamberlain when he signed with the Tigers? Did you offer him any advice about Detroit?


Clay Rapada: I congratulated him and wished him well.  I know Joba loved New York, but sometimes you gotta start fresh.

BYB: As a pro player, do you ever "shut down" in the winter, or do you throw all year round as a pitcher?

Clay Rapada: I try to shut it down a couple times during off season, but I prefer to do some arm action workouts just to keep it going.


BYB: My 11 year old plays ball all year round.  What's the most important piece of advice you can give him, especially if he wants to one day play in the Major Leagues?

Clay Rapada: Have fun and play other sports until your ready to focus on one.  Then when you're ready, practice perfect and practice fast.

BYB: What do you think about the drug testing in the Major Leagues. Is it working?

Clay Rapada: I think we are starting to see the results of more intense drug test and less 50 and 60 home run hitters.


BYB:  Finally, do you read Bleeding Yankee Blue? If so, what do you think. Be honest and don't insult me. That's a joke...

Clay Rapada:  I tend to check out an article here and there. especially when it involves a friend or former teammate.  It is always nice to see positive articles.  I think the world is too negative because that's what sells coming into the Internet, magazines, interviews, TV,  so to read positive articles about a team that didn't win the World Series is refreshing.

Clay, you're the man and you know it.  Thanks for taking the time. Looking forward to seeing you pitching pro again soon... this time for the Angels of course.

Best of luck.

Thank you to all the Bleeding Yankee Blue readers for continued success.  You've made BYB the fastest growing Yankees fan site in the history of Yankees fandom.  Thanks for reading, sharing and enjoying. Follow me on Twitter @BleednYankeeBlu and join the group Bleeding Yankee Blue (Official) on Facebook, just type it in.

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