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Clippard remains close with his father

Clippard remains close with his father

WASHINGTON -- Whenever Nationals right-hander Tyler Clippard has a problem on or off the field, the first thing he does is call his father, Bob, whom he calls his psychiatrist.

For example, when the Nationals decided early last season that Clippard was no longer a starting pitcher and was being switched to the bullpen, he voiced his displeasure, figuring he was no longer in the Nationals' plans. Clippard called his dad to get his reaction.

"Be thankful you have a job." Bob told his youngest son.

"I wanted to make sure that he could always succeed no matter what happens in life or in baseball," the father said. "I could discuss things with him that are obvious because I was his coach."

Because of those words of encouragement, Tyler, 25, took his new role seriously. Now, he is considered one of the best setup men in baseball. Besides having an ERA under 2.00, Tyler is among the league leaders in victories and holds. Clippard said he wouldn't have made it in baseball without his dad's wisdom.

"He has been a great influence in my life," Tyler said. "He is the reason I'm able to do things as a baseball player and a lot of things off the field. I feel he set an example for me as far as my outlook on life and the things I should be doing and things I shouldn't be doing.

"It's not a situation where he puts a lot of pressure on me. He set a standard that is easy to follow. I'm very blessed in that way."

Don't get the wrong idea. Clippard doesn't just call his father when things are going wrong. On April 10, after he pitched three shutout innings and struck out seven batters against the Mets, Tyler's ego was at an all-time high. So he decided to call Bob, who was surprised to get the call late that night.

"It looks like you are doing extremely well, almost unbelievable," Bob told his son.

"Yeah, that's why I'm calling," Tyler quickly responded.

"Oh, you need someone to bring you down?" the father asked.

"Yep," the son replied.

"It works on both sides," Bob said. "You can't think you are too good, but you can't think you are such a failure, either."

Bob gets emotional when talking about Tyler. The father still is proud of that fact that his son relies heavily on what he has to say.

"Both of my boys are my life," Bob said. "Tyler has extended my ability to be more of a father because he doesn't have a family yet. We talk a lot. We are close. I talk to him about his friends and things that are going on with his life. I'm so proud of him. He is an amazing kid. I'm proud of him more for the way he is in life than his baseball abilities."

Tyler knew he would make it to the big leagues by watching his father's work ethic. Born in Lexington, Ky., Tyler watched his father work in the retail business. Bob had a goal of one day moving his family to Florida and working in the Tampa area.

Bob reached that goal and that inspired his son to reach the big leagues, which he did in 2007 as a member of the Yankees. It also explains why Tyler has pitched a lot of innings for the Nationals the last two seasons.

"My father didn't make that transition by accident. In was on purpose. It has a lot to do with where I am today and things like that," Tyler said. "He made all that happen. He was in retail when I was growing up. It was one of those 60-hour-a-week jobs. He tried to get us everything we ever wanted, and he made it happen."

Bob is also a concerned father. Like many fans and members of the media, Bob gets worried when Tyler throws a lot of innings. The son has already compiled 41 this season. Bob has often told Tyler not to hide injuries.

"Yeah, he thinks I'm too concerned about that sometimes," Bob said. "I obviously have no control over that. But you want to make sure that if he has any issues, I don't want him to keep it to himself because he has only one tool to care about. I try to keep him in line about thinking about himself."

That's dad and the psychiatrist talking.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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