Post-season Q&A with Clay Rapada

Clay Rapada

A 0.82 ERA and 21 saves in 33 appearances was enough to get left-hander Clay Rapada promoted from Double-A West Tenn to Triple-A Iowa in late June. With the I-Cubs, the left-hander posted a solid 3.04 ERA in 28 appearances, all the while battling a fingernail injury.

Q: First, what can you tell us about the ascension from Double-A to Triple-A?

A: I basically just tried to get my feet wet and gain the most experience at that level from the older guys. I had a tough time in the beginning, trying to do too much instead of just letting my stuff do its own thing. My last outing in Double-A, I had a fingernail incident where I lost like a third of the nail. I tried to bear through it at Triple-A, but finally broke down and went on the DL. I came off and everything was fine. I felt like my old self again.

Q: What else can you say about the DL stint?

A: It was initiated from the fingernail, but the doctors said that from my release point, I was trying to compensate and not have so much pain on one side of the finger that I was releasing it on the other side. That's what really caused it.

Q: Had you ever had a similar injury in the past?

A: No, that was the weird thing about it. Usually I'll get a callous or my fingernails will fray or slightly crack, but this was more extensive. I had a really tough time finding my release point. It was basically an everyday struggle.

Q: Overall, how pleased were you with the year you had?

A: I can't complain. I had a great year in Double-A and was able to manage a 3.00 ERA in Triple-A. The older guys said that if you had an ERA under four, you had a good year. The PCL is a hitter's league, so I can't say anything but good things at this moment. I wish I had had a little better command in Triple-A, but the last six or seven outings there, I didn't give up any walks.

Q: Now you're headed to the Arizona Fall League. Do you have any expectations going in?

A: Not really. First, I was honored to be asked because I had a contract to go to Mexico for Winter Ball. But the fall league has priorities over that. It's an honor to be thought of as one of the organization's top prospects. I'll probably call my agent in the next few days and get what the expectations are and go from there.

Q: Is there any specific thing you'd like to fine-tune there?

A: My changeup. It just needs work. It was more effective on the right-handed hitters up at Triple-A. Down at Double-A, I didn't have to use it as much and pretty much stuck with a fastball and slider. At Triple-A, I noticed that when I used my change, I got a lot more success.

Q: What type of role do you see yourself in after the year you've had?

A: I have to earn my way up there and for the most part, they've told me that if I do get my shot, it's going to be as a lefty vs. lefty guy. But they've said they could see me getting a higher role in the bullpen.

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