04/05/09 6:06 PM ET
Clement ends comeback bid with Jays
Righty plans to retire after nine seasons in the Majors
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Clement, 34, was signed to a Minor League contract in December by Toronto and was brought into Spring Training with a chance to earn a spot in the club's starting rotation. Clement made strides on the mound, but he came up short in the competition and was asked if he'd accept an assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas.
"I was talking to Matty," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said on Sunday. "His heart wasn't in it, you could just tell. He's come back from so much. He's come a long way, and I give him credit for that. I think he was just tired of fighting, to be honest with you."
In parts of nine big league seasons, Clement had stints with the Padres, Marlins, Cubs and Red Sox and went 87-86 with a 4.50 ERA over 238 outings. Clement was named to the American League All-Star team in 2005, when he went 13-6 with a 4.76 ERA over 32 starts for Boston. From 1999-2005, Clement made at least 30 starts per season.
In 2006, though, Clement was limited to 12 appearances with the Red Sox due to shoulder problems. After attempting to work through the discomfort in his arm, Clement eventually underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in September. Clement missed the entire 2007 season and pitched for the Cardinals in the Minor Leagues in '08.
This spring, Clement reunited with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, who worked with the pitcher during their time with the Marlins, and he worked his way into the mix for a job with the Jays. Clement said his arm felt the best it had in years, but his performance on the mound suffered. On March 22, Clement issued seven walks and allowed nine runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Twins and was later returned to the Jays' Minor League camp.
Bird feed: Ricciardi said the Jays have confidence in B.J. Ryan's ability to serve as the team's closer. This spring, manager Cito Gaston expressed concern about Ryan's pitch velocity and entertained the idea of possibly handing some saves over to left-hander Scott Downs. "I think a lot was made of the velocity as opposed to the results," Ricciardi said. "The closer, it's more about the results than the velocity at some points. Obviously, listen, if we get to a point where we have to make an adjustment, we'll have to make an adjustment. But right now, there's no reason for us to think that he can't close." ... On Sunday, the Blue Jays purchased the contracts of infielder Kevin Millar and catcher Michael Barrett, adding the pair to the club's Opening Day roster. ... Ricciardi said reliever Jeremy Accardo, who was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas last week, will serve as a closer in the Minors.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.