Clemens struggles a bit in second tuneup
TRENTON, N.J. ” Roger Clemens didn’t look ready for the major leagues on Wednesday night.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings while pitching for the New York Yankees’ Double-A Trenton farm team against Boston’s Portland, Maine, affiliate.
Clemens wasn’t bothered by the results.
“So far so good,” he said after his second minor league start since signing with the Yankees.
Clemens refused to say where his next start for the Yankees would be. He said he has told team officials how he feels, adding that an intense bullpen workout on Friday might be the deciding factor. He said his arm and legs both felt good.
“I felt the last three or four days when I backed off my routine to give my body a chance to catch up, I expected it to respond well, and it did,” Clemens said.
His pitching was shaky at times. He threw 64 of 102 pitches for strikes, struggling with his control. He walked the bases loaded in the first inning and walked in the tying run in the sixth.
Clemens would have been the losing pitcher but the Thunder tied the game at 3-all in the ninth and won 4-3 in the 10th inning. By that time, about 95 percent of the record crowd of 9,134 was gone, with most walking out after giving the 44-year-old a standing ovation after he was yanked because of his pitch count.
“I think throwing 102 pitches, that was what he was waiting for,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
They arrived three hours before the game and packed the first base line to catch a glimpse of Clemens. He finally walked to the bullpen about 30 minutes before the game and warmed up for 20 minutes.
Clemens walked four, struck out five, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. He gave up four extra base hits, including three doubles and a triple.
“It was one step in the right direction, a little further down the road,” Clemens said. “I’m glad to get one more done.”
The fans were funny though.
After Clemens threw two balls to start the game, one yelled:
“Come on throw a strike!”
Clemens had planned to throw 70-75 pitches but he was at the number after four innings. He got through the fifth with only 10 pitches, but got into trouble in the sixth, giving up consecutive singles, hitting a batter and walking another as Portland tied the score 2-2.
Thunder manager Tony Franklin walked to the mound, talked to Clemens and summoned reliever Michael Gardner, who walked in the go-ahead run against the Sea Dogs.
“I think they wanted to shut me down after five but I felt fine,” Clemens said. “I wanted to continue. I need to get reps, a lot of them.”
If all goes well, he could jump into New York’s rotation Monday or Tuesday against the Blue Jays ” one of his former teams.
“Again, it’s up to him,” Torre said. “He knows his body better than anybody else. If he feels he needs to be sharper, he’ll stay down there for one more turn.”
If he wants more work, Clemens might choose to make another minor league start, perhaps for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, before returning to the big leagues June 2 or 3 at Boston, his original club.
Current Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein sat behind home plate and watched the game.
“I’m just here to watch my guys play,” Epstein said.
Clemens took the “Madden” bus from New York and arrived at Trenton about 1 p.m. Less than an hour later, he was holding court on the mound with members of the Thunder.
“It’s exciting,” Clemens said. “I mean I am happy I get an opportunity to maybe perform in places where I normally would not have the opportunity to. I have gotten to see some neat towns. Coming here from New York it was a pretty neat drive. I am meeting some new guys and that’s all part of it. I enjoy doing it.”
A Yankees’ season ticket holder, Kevin Carpenter of Norwalk, Conn., gave up his seats for Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankees Stadium to see Clemens.
“He’s been my Babe Ruth growing up. I even made the ultimate sacrifice switching from a Red Sox fan to a Yankees fan,” Carpenter said.
Clemens threw 58 pitches in four innings for Class-A Tampa on Friday night. He allowed one run on three hits ” a solo homer ” and struck out two against the Fort Myers Miracle, a Minnesota Twins affiliate.
Clemens was a bit wild in the first inning, when plate umpire Clory Blaser didn’t give him the 13-time All Star any breaks.
Leadoff hitter Jeff Corsaletti led off the game with a fly out to deep drive to left center and the inning ended when Bryan Pritz’s long fly was caught on the warning track with the bases loaded.
Clemens mixed in more sliders and breaking balls the rest of the way.
Portland touched Clemens for a run in third. Jed Lowrie hit a leadoff double to right center on a hanging slider and scored on a pair of groundouts ” on the first one, Clemens hustled to cover first base.
Clemens agreed to a $28,000,022, one-year contract on May 6 and began working out at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla., last week.