Former MLB pitcher Clay Rapada began his coaching career in 2016 with the Augusta GreenJackets. He answers questions about his career as player and coach.
Clay Rapada, who played across six Major League Organizations spanning seven seasons, has the odd distinction of never suffering a loss in his MLB career through 152 games. The pitcher-turned coach enters year two with the Augusta GreenJackets, and he answered some questions relating to his professional baseball career.
William: You played on various teams across the bigs, including the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians…of all the teams you’ve played for, which did you enjoy playing for the most? Favorite city to play in? Memorable teammates? Players you played against?
Clay Rapada: I enjoyed all the teams I played for because they gave me an opportunity to chase a dream. Every single city has a unique lifestyle to them. I really enjoyed my short time with the Chicago Cubs as I grew up and rooted for them. Derek Jeter was my favorite teammate because he always told me to stay humble and it’s a daily lesson sometimes. I had a former teammate of David Ortiz tell him he hated facing me, so it was a huge respect for him as player and opponent.
William: Toughest hitter you faced?
Clay Rapada: David Ortiz — he never got me good but he handled how I pitched him pretty well.
William: How did you get into coaching? Obviously, we know each other from our time in Augusta, how would you rate your first year as a coach?
Clay Rapada: I always wanted to be a teacher and after 14 years of playing I felt it would be easy transition to teach the sport I love the most. I felt it went as well as it could be based off the results and relationship and trust I have for the kids.
William: What are your future goals and endeavors? Do you have an interest in managing?
Clay Rapada: My goal is to take this as long as possible and get better every day. I don’t have any interest now but never know.
William: What is your offseason like around this time of year?
Clay Rapada: A lot of house jobs, and I still workout for fun, not to compete for a job.
William: What advice would you offer to kids who want to be the next Clay Rapada as far as having a career in the Majors?
Clay Rapada: Be coachable; So many kids get brainwashed by parents that sometimes they put up walls with coaches who are looking out for their best interest.
William: If there’s one thing, one skill you could tell anyone to try to achieve as far as being a successful baseball player, what would it be?
Clay Rapada: Be a hard worker. I’ve never meet a big leaguer who wished they didn’t work as hard to get where they are.
William: I remember early on in the 2016 GreenJackets season, it was after a game, and my work was done so I was just killing time in the clubhouse sitting on the couch. Some players, Jean Angomas, Kelvin Beltre were around as well and were watching some of your strikeout clips on YouTube. Do many players ask about your time in the Bigs?
Clay Rapada: Some ask and I have no issue sharing because I hope that they all wish and dream and strive to be at that level.
William: What was it like being teammates with guys like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera?
Clay Rapada: They are all true professionals. If only you could see the amount of work they actually put in to master their craft.
William: Did you realize you have the most appearances in Major League history of any pitcher who hadn’t suffered a loss?
Clay Rapada: I found that out that year.
William: You threw side arm. Any particular advantage you find in pitching side arm?
Clay Rapada: Deception
William: I know you make your home in Columbus…I used to live there, and it’s a great town. What about it do you like the most/what stands out about it?
Clay Rapada: The youthfulness of the city
William: You represented the Philippines in the WBC qualifier. What did it mean to you to participate in that and have that opportunity?
Clay Rapada: My family means the world to me and I know it made them proud.
Also published on Medium.