Tyler Clippard won’t pass up chance to pitch in WBC

Tyler Clippard made his final Spring appearance on Sunday before joining his Team USA teammates in Fort Myers to prepare for the World Baseball Classic.

When Clippard initially got the call from his former manager Joe Torre to join Team USA, Clippard couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

So of course, he said yes.

Even though Clippard said yes, other players around baseball feel differently than he does regarding the tournament.

New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard turned down the invitation to play because he said: “Ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or win a World Series playing in the WBC.”

“I understand it,” Clippard said on Sunday prior to the Yankees 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “I completely understand that on a lot of levels. I thought of that, and I think I’d be remiss not to. I’m sure all of the guys that have committed to play for the American team have thought of those things. But this is my opportunity to play for my country, and I’m not going to get it again. So for me, it was a no-brainer.”

Clippard wanted to play in the World Baseball Classic in 2013, but when he didn’t get the invite, he thought he never would.

That’s why he was surprised when Torre, who managed the Yankees when Clippard was a rookie back in 2007, asked him to play this year.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s the one opportunity in my life I have to do that. Baseball is what I do, and that’s kind of the only avenue that I can represent my country in. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve watched the Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics every single time, and I just look out there and watch those guys walk around in the Opening Ceremonies with the American flag. And I just look at that and think I wish I could do that on some level.

“This is our opportunity as baseball players to experience something like that. It’s our Ryder Cup, it’s our Olympics, and to be able to get asked to play on the American team is a special thing.”

Torre also invited Dellin Betances to pitch for Team USA. Betances opted to pitch for Team Dominican Republic instead.

“It’s completely understandable from (Betances’) perspective. No hard feelings,” Clippard said. “I just know that we were talking trash to each other the other day.”

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