Clay Zavada Arrives at Diamondbacks Camp

When pitchers and catchers reported to the new Scottsdale Spring Training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, there was one name that was missing. Left-hander Clay Zavada who burst onto the scene in 2009 did not arrive Sunday for his scheduled physical and was not in the clubhouse when pitchers began their workouts on Monday.

General Manager Kevin Towers and Manager Kirk Gibson both admitted they were unaware of a reason for Zavada’s absence. When Tuesday came and Zavada was again not in camp Towers reached out to Zavada’s agent to inquire where the lefty was and if he would be attending Spring Training.

The answers given were somewhat confusing. Zavada who went through elbow surgery last year in a procedure commonly referred to as Tommy John surgery has been rehabilitating hoping to make his way back to the mound some time this season.

Recovery from this type of surgery usually takes about 12 months so it was doubtful that Zavada would be able to make the club out of Spring Training but could be ready some time in mid-May. His absence though had everyone wondering what was going on.

Zavada’s representatives suggested that the pitcher may be having second thoughts about his ability to recover from injury and he may be considering retirement. This would not be the first time Zavada walked away from baseball.

After the death of his father Zavada quit baseball to return to the family farm in Streator IL. Besides farming he also went back to school to fulfill a promise to his parents that he would get his degree.

Upon graduating from college Zavada began playing Independent ball where Diamondbacks scouts found him once again and offered him a second chance. Zavada pitched well there and was promoted to the big leagues on May 21, 2009 where he earned his first win.

Zavada quickly became a fan favorite with his quirky personality and handlebar mustache. He had some success at the major league level going 3-3 with a 3.35 ERA that season. Going into Spring Training last year he was penciled in as the left-hander in the bullpen.

He struggled last spring with control and velocity and was sent to the minors. Elbow problems resulted in surgery in May 2010. After the season the Diamondbacks removed him from the 40-man roster allowing him to become a free agent.

He signed a minor league contract with the club and was invited to Spring Training. On Wednesday Zavada arrived at camp saying only that he had to attend to some personal issues when asked about his absence.

Team officials have said they will not hold this against him and will give him every opportunity to make the club out of Spring Training. Hopefully with the issues out of the way Zavada can regain some of what made him so special in 2009.


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