Clippard ‘more thankful than ever’ to be back

CHICAGO — There was a time this spring that Tyler Clippard feared he’d thrown his last pitch in the Majors.

The D-backs right-hander was forced to leave a Spring Training game, and a subsequent MRI showed a capsule sprain in his throwing shoulder. It did not look like the 36-year-old would be able to pitch again this year, if ever.

“I thought it was more of a mild injury, and then the diagnosis with the sprain of the capsule was real surprising,” Clippard said. “Just being around the game as long as I have, I’m certainly not a doctor, but I’ve heard of injuries like that and there’s no guarantees coming back from something like that.

“So it was scary, man, and I’m not a young guy anymore. I got a lot of innings on the arm.”

Clippard certainly has logged plenty of innings over his 15-year career — 843 of them, to be exact, heading into Saturday — and his durability has been one of his biggest strengths as a pitcher.

In the pandemic-shortened 60-game schedule of 2020, Clippard appeared in nearly half his team’s games — 26.

Though there were setbacks and moments of doubt, Clippard kept working at his rehab this summer. He was finally rewarded Wednesday, when he was activated and made his first appearance of the season.

“When you’re on that cusp of potentially your career being over to going, ‘OK, hey, this is going…

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