New York Yankees 2012 Spring Training Roster Battles: Clay Rapada Earning Bullpen Spot?

Could Clay Rapada make the New York Yankees pitching staff this Spring? (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Could veteran left-handed relief specialist Clay Rapada be pitching his way on to the New York Yankees' 2012 Opening Day roster? Rapada signed with the Yankees as a free agent this offseason with no guarantees of making the team, and Lohud's Chad Jennings says this spring Rapada hasbeen the most impressive Yankees reliever not named Mariano Rivera."

That, of course, is high praise.

In parts of five vagabond big-league seasons including stops with four teams the side-winding Rapada has held left-handed hitters to a .153 batting average, .252 on-base percentage and .220 slugging percentage.

This spring Rapada has pitched in seven games covering 6.2 innings, allowing just two hits. He has nine strikeouts and a 0.79 WHIP.

If the Yankees, as appears likely, carry 12 pitchers Rapada would appear to have a good chance to open the season as the second lefty in the bullpen along with Boone Logan. That is a luxury manager Joe Girardi always covets. Rapada, in fact, might not have much competition for a roster spot at this point until Andy Pettitte is ready to rejoin the team or Joba Chamberlain completes his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

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