“Obviously, the ultimate goal is to always be in the major leagues,” said Claiborne. He added, “you never want to leave.”
Despite his desire to be in the Yankees’ bullpen to start the season, his spring did not warrant him a spot. This however, can change as the season goes along.
This is not new territory for Claiborne. Despite being down about his spring, he is going back to Triple-A to start the season, just as he did in 2013. Scranton is a place the right-hander thrived a year ago. During the first month of the season, Claiborne earned three saves in eight games while striking out ten in 10 1/3 innings pitched. That success earned him a call-up in May after an injury sidelined Joba Chamberlain.
Claiborne would not leave the big leagues for the rest of the season. He became one of Joe Girardi’s more trusted hurlers out of the ‘pen. In 50 1/3 innings, Claiborne struck out 42 and pitched to a 4.11 ERA. With the solid campaign, it seemed he would be a shoe-in for a spot in the Yankees’ 2014 bullpen.
Then came spring training, 2014. Claiborne suffered from what he said was a “dead-arm period.” It severely hurt his spring, as he pitched to a 14.29 ERA in just 5 2/3 innings. His final chance came last Wednesday when he gave up 6 runs and failed to record an out against the Toronto Blue Jays. That outing, as well as the success of guys like Dellin Betances and Vidal Nuno, sealed Claiborne’s fate as he was optioned to Scranton the next day.
So now all Preston Claiborne can do is, try to improve and keep a positive attitude moving forward. He knows where he stands and why he’s in the position he’s in. “I know I under-performed during spring training. I know I have to earn my job. I didn’t go out and perform up to my capability,” said Claiborne. He also knows what it takes to get back to the majors. When asked about his experience a season ago, Claiborne said “…it was insurmountable. It helped me out a lot. I believe in myself, believe in my ability.”
That is the first step. If he can continue to believe in his ability, as well as continue to improve at Triple-A, we will more than likely see Preston Claiborne in the Bronx this season.