Results tagged ‘ Clay Zavada ’

Monday morning notes from the Clubhouse

The D-backs are hoping that Mother Nature cooperates today as they will hurry to try and get their workout in before the expected rains come.

Pretty quiet in the clubhouse this morning with guys starting to settle into the routine of Spring Training.

Catcher Chris Snyder spent some time talking with special instructor Mel Stottlemyre Sr. and afterwards I asked him about the value of having the former big league pitching coach in camp.

“Unbelievable,” Snyder said. “Having him around is a learning experience for everyone. When you think of great pitching coaches in the game he’s got to be one of the first that comes to mind.”

Stottlemyre is the father of former D-backs pitcher Todd and current pitching coach Mel Jr.

After pitchers throw their bullpen sessions here in camp, the catchers will generally meet them halfway between the mound and plate to assess their performance with the catchers giving feedback on mechanics, location, movement etc.

“When [Stottlemyre Sr.] is involved in one of those and he’s talking, you’re quiet,” Snyder said. “You just take in his knowledge.”

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Lefty Clay Zavada, whose rise to the big leagues last year was a great story, has a locker this year more befitting of a Major Leaguer than he did last year.

In 2009, he was on the side of the clubhouse typically reserved for Minor Leaguers on the 40-man roster and non-roster invitees. This year he has a locker on the on a corner next to the bat rack.

“I don’t care where they put me,” Zavada said when I pointed out his new digs. “They could make me dress in a shack outside and I would still be happy as long as they gave me a uniform.”

It’s just another example of why it’s refreshing to spend time talking with him.

Zavada enjoys Wrigley debut

CHICAGO — So Clay Zavada did get into Friday’s game with a large contingent of fans from his hometown of Streator, Ill. in attendance.

The left-hander threw a scoreless ninth inning on the field that he dreamed about setting foot on as a kid.

“That was awesome,” he said. “I kept the ball, it’s right up there in the locker. I  put up a zero and I was happy. That’s all you can ask for.”

A contingent of about 300 came up from Streator for the game including three busloads of fans.

“There was a little bit of pressure to pitch good for them because they spent a lot of time and money, sat through the cold weather,” Zavada said.

Of course, what Zavada may be most remembered for Friday was a play that happened in the seventh inning.
 
With runners on first and second, pinch-hitter Micah Hoffpauir hit a bullet down the right-field line. Because the bullpens at Wrigley Field are located just on the other side of the foul line, a pitcher typically will stand behind whoever is catching the pitcher warming up so as to protect him from, well, a bullet down the line.

Zavada was playing the role of protector while Blaine Boyer warmed up and he snagged the ball before it could hit bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas.

The only problem was the ball was fair so Zavada quickly flipped the ball back down and took two steps back in hopes no one would notice.

His teammates watched the video over and over again in the clubhouse after the game laughing hysterically each time.

Here’s how Zavada explained things to us after the game:

“I thought it was foul. First of all it was going to smoke our catcher, alright?  It was going to hit him right in the back, it was curving. Now on the TV it didn’t look like that, but it was, the angle of the camera wasn’t good. I’m not making excuses, this ball was screaming.

“I made a great stab, OK and I look at the ump and he points towards fair and I go, ‘That was fair?’ And he goes, ‘Yep’  and I say oh no and I didn’t know what to do so I just threw the ball back into fair territory and took a couple of steps back. I did a good job, I protected my guy. I looked like an idiot in front of all my hometown and the rest of the world on WGN. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. If I had to do it all over again I would have done the same thing.”

Of course it should also be noted that Zavada possibly did save a run on the play since it was ruled a ground-rule double which prevented the runner on first from scoring.

“I thought I did good even though I screwed up,” he said. “It was stupid, it will be on not-so-top-10.
The ump did say I did a good job because it was going to smoke it. The only thing he said I screwed up on was throwing the ball back out there.”

 

Zavada sees Wrigley from different perspective

I had the pleasure of walking from the clubhouse to the dugout with Clay Zavada Friday morning as Zavada got his first look at Wrigley Field from the field.

As a kid growing up in Streator, Ill., Zavada would occasionally go to some Cubs games and you could see getting to return as a Major Leaguer was a big deal.

“I never went to any other parks so this was all I knew,” he said. “This is where I grew up watching baseball. I didn’t realize just how special, how unique it was until I got to see some of the other ballparks.

When he would come to games he let himself dream, but he never imagined he would one day be playing in Wrigley.

“I always dreamed of getting on the field,” he said. “I just never thought that it would be as a player.”

Zavada had plenty of people cheering for him Friday as there were three busloads of about 150 folks from Streator that made the trip to Wrigley Field. Zavada estimated another 150 came on their own.

I asked D-backs manager A.J. Hinch before the game if he was going to get Zavada into a game this weekend and he said he would like to do that if for no other reason than to get his first experience at Wrigley out of the way for next year.

For more on Zavada, check out a story I wrote on him earlier this year.

Zavada enjoys successful debut

When he was called up to the big leagues a week ago, Clay Zavada’s stay lasted just one day and he never saw any game action.

Thursday, though, in Florida, the left-hander got the full big-league experience.

Called up from Double-A Mobile, Zavada got little sleep before arriving to Land Shark Stadium in time for the team’s game with the Marlins.

“I told him before the game it would be virtually impossible to not pitch in that game,” Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said.

Not only did Zavada pitch, but he retired the three batters he faced and wound up picking up the win as the D-backs won, 4-3.

“It was everything and more,” Zavada said when asked if Thursday was everything he had dreamed it would be. “To get the win, too. I mean it was a great team effort and a lot of luck involved for me to get the win, but it’s awesome.”

There were plenty of text messages and phone calls from friends back in Streator, Ill., where they were watching at a local bar that had the Major League Baseball package.

While he was giving a postgame television interview to FSN Arizona, Zavada received a towel loaded with shaving cream to the face, a baseball tradition given to rookies when they appear on TV like that.

“Growing up in Streator I used to see that on TV with Cubs,” Zavada said. “I never thought I would get one. There was so much of it. My head was white. It was a good one. They must have used two cans of king size Barbasol on that.”

Zavada, 24, is easy to pick out of a crowd given his handlebar mustache, which has draws plenty of attention from teammates and fans. It’s something that started last year when he was with Class A South Bend.

“Josh Collmenter was my roommate last year and he inspired me to grow it,” Zavada said. “Plus we had a mustache appreciation night or a mustache contest last year at the ballpark in South Bend. I didn’t have one goo back then, but it’s flowing pretty good right now. I’ve been growing it since last August.

“I don’t mess with it too much, people thing that I do, but it really just curls up on its own. I just kind of twirl it occasionally. If I have to pitch that night, the last thing I’m worried about is the mustache and waxing it up. Now, if I’m down for a day, you’ll see me wax it up, trying to look good.”

How long Zavada’s current stint in the big leagues continues is unknown, but one thing is for sure, the mustache is staying.

“I like it,” he said. “Not a lot of people do, but some do. I’d say it’s 50-50. It scares some little kids, but there are some college kids that like it. I’m just having fun. It’s all fun.”

When you’re in the big leagues everything is.

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