Tyler Cloyd is happy to still be a Phillie

Tyler Cloyd is happy to still be a Phillie
March 9, 2013, 2:00 pm
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CLEARWATER, Fla. – Tyler Cloyd is scheduled to pitch at the Houston Astros’ ballpark in Kissimmee on Sunday.

For the Phillies.

Several months ago, it looked as if Cloyd might be pitching in that ballpark for the Astros. He and catcher Sebastian Valle were widely mentioned as being headed to the Astros in a deal for setup reliever Wilton Lopez. The deal was agreed upon but never finalized. Sources say the Phils had concerns about Lopez’ health. He was eventually traded from Houston to Colorado.

Had the deal gone through, Mike Adams probably wouldn’t be a Phillie because Lopez would have filled the Phils’ need for an eighth-inning man.

And Cloyd might be scheduled to pitch against the Phillies, not for them, Sunday.

“It would be different,” Cloyd acknowledged Saturday. “But I’m happy where I’m at.”

Cloyd heard his name bandied about in the proposed November deal for Lopez. Friends called and asked if he’d been traded. That’s as far as his knowledge of the deal went.

“I told my agent unless you find out something for sure, I’d rather not hear about it,” Cloyd said. “I was just going to prepare for the season coming up and for me with the Phillies.”

In terms of team construction, the Astros and Phillies are polar opposites. The Phillies are a veteran team trying to squeeze out a championship with an aging core of talent. The Astros, constructed around young players, are in complete rebuild mode. Had Cloyd gone to the Astros, he might be looking at job in the big-league rotation. With the Phillies, he’s destined for Triple A, where he will serve as depth for the big-league club, either in the starting rotation or bullpen.

A chance to grow with the Astros might be tempting to some, but Cloyd is happy that he’s still a Phillie.

“Obviously the pitching staff we have here is great,” he said. “They don’t have the pitching staff we do. But no matter where you are you have to fight for a job. Nothing is handed to you.”

Few know that better than Cloyd.

The 25-year-old righthander was pretty much the definition of an “organizational pitcher” a year ago. He was set to break spring camp with Double A Reading, but was sent to Triple A to make an emergency opening day start. What a start it was – he pitched six perfect innings with six strikeouts. His reward: A trip back to Double A. That is what an “organizational guy” does – he goes where he’s needed.

Cloyd continued to pitch well at Double A and earned his way back to Triple A, where he went 12-1 with an International League-best 2.35 ERA in 22 starts. Cloyd’s 15 minor-league wins put him on the big-league club’s radar and he earned a late-season call to Philadelphia, where he won two more games to finish the season with 17. He was also named winner of the Paul Owens Award as the organization’s minor-league pitcher of the year. Darin Ruf, another veteran minor-leaguer who enjoyed a breakout season in 2012, won the Owens Award for position players. Cloyd and Ruf were both late-round draft picks out of the state of Nebraska. Cloyd went in the 18th round in 2008, Ruf in the 20th round in 2009.

Cloyd admitted that last season had a storybook feel for him.

“I wasn’t a high pick and I’m not a guy that throws that hard,” he said. “But I continued to do what I had to do to get better and it worked out.

“At the same time, I have to get over that and continue to show that it wasn’t a fluke and continue to perform.”

Cloyd pitched two scoreless innings in his spring debut against Detroit, but was tagged for seven hits and six runs in two innings in his last outing against Toronto. Later, it was revealed that he was pitching with some forearm stiffness. He says he’s feeling better now and ready to pitch Sunday against – not for – the Astros.

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