Tyler Cloyd hopes to make Phillies notice him again

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Tyler Cloyd finished 2-2 with Phils after going 15-1 at Reading and Lehigh Valley to earn the Paul Owens Award as organization's top minor league pitcher.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Tyler Cloyd finished 2-2 with Phils after going 15-1 at Reading and Lehigh Valley to earn the Paul Owens Award as organization's top minor league pitcher.
Posted: February 20, 2013

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Tyler Cloyd's phone was quickly dying.

He had just arrived at his new office space, at One Citizens Bank Way in South Philly, when he hurriedly found a new teammate with a phone charger. Thankfully, Antonio Bastardo showed some hospitality to the 25-year-old righthander who woke up at his friend's place on the Chesapeake Bay, only to find himself pitching in a major league game for the Phillies later that night.

"It was the most hectic drive ever," Cloyd said of Aug. 29, when he was summoned to the big leagues to fill in for an ill Cole Hamels.

Buzzing all day with incoming calls from the Phillies and outgoing ones to family and friends, the phone died before Cloyd went to the field to prep for his first big-league game. He turned it back on following his major league debut: a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets.

"I felt like it just never stopped vibrating with all of the texts coming through from friends and family," Cloyd said. "I was kind of happy I got to turn it off and let it be for a while."

Cloyd was able to relax and get settled on his second day as a major leaguer. He spent the final month of the 2012 season in the Phillies' rotation and finished 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA in six starts.

But Cloyd isn't projected to begin 2013 in the same spot. The Phillies hope to break camp with a healthy Roy Halladay, Hamels and Cliff Lee atop the rotation, with veterans Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan rounding out the starting five.

"It's business, and they have to have a five-man rotation - I think it's great," Cloyd, an 18th-round pick in 2008 out of Nebraska-Omaha, said before Monday's workout. "Competition is what this whole game is about. So it's going to be fun. No matter who is here, or what, I feel like I'm never handed a job, none of us are handed a job. We always have to compete for the job."

Cloyd spent the entire 2012 season proving his worth.

As a pitcher not blessed with a big fastball, Cloyd lives and dies on location. His ability to command his cutter is his bread and butter.

Since he doesn't have the kind of stuff that makes scouts drool, Cloyd has to prove himself from one start to the next with results.

"His stuff doesn't jump out at you, that's for sure," said Phillies bullpen coach Rod Nichols, who was the pitching coach at Triple A Lehigh Valley last season. "He's always going to have to put up numbers. And keep doing it."

It's what worked for Cloyd last summer.

After going 9-4 with a 2.77 ERA in 31 games (22 starts) between Class A Clearwater and Double A Reading, Cloyd earned a promotion to Triple A early in 2012 after starting 3-0 at Reading. And he never slowed down: Cloyd went 12-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 22 starts at Lehigh Valley.

In September, Cloyd was honored with the Paul Owens Award as the Phillies' minor league pitcher of the year.

Cloyd has held on to tapes from his games last year - for reference to keep up with his mechanics and pitch selection -- but he also knows 2012 is history and history won't help him in 2013.

"For me, the attitude doesn't change: I have to prove myself again, over and over," Cloyd said.

Cloyd will be stretched out as a starter this spring, joining the likes of nonroster pitchers, including Rodrigo Lopez and Aaron Cook, and higher-ceiling prospects, such as Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin, as players in camp battling out for the all-important sixth-starter role.

To be clear: The sixth starter very often opens the season in the minor leagues, not the major leagues. But it's still a favorable position because the sixth starter is always needed.

Few, if any, major league teams make it through the course of a 162-game season without an injury to a starting pitcher.

"I think he'd be one of the candidates," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said of Cloyd. "Tyler did a nice job for us last year. He threw a ton of innings, so I don't know if we saw the real good Tyler all the time because he did get up over 200 innings. [He finished with exactly 200, including 33 with the Phillies.] He'll be shooting for that sixth starter."

Despite his success last year, Cloyd is one of quieter players who hasn't received a ton of attention in the first week of camp in Clearwater. Maybe it's because his locker stall is hidden away in the back corner of the clubhouse.

It's not necessarily in a bad spot - Carlos Ruiz is to his right and Chad Durbin is to his left - but it's easy for Cloyd to hide or go about his business without being noticed.

He's hoping to change that in the next month.

"You want to keep showing you want to improve, and you keep improving from start to start," Cloyd said. "I knew going into the offseason and coming into spring that I was going to have to prove myself again. I have to show them that I can make the adjustments, that I can pitch in the big leagues."


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: philly.com/HighCheese

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