The Astros were watching Roger Clemens’ workout

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UPDATE: Astros owner Jim Crane confirmed to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle that the club did see him throw today. However, he added that they have no plans to bring him back now and would check with MLB first if they ever do.

6:10 PM: A source told Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle that the Astros had scouting director Mike Elias watch Roger Clemens’ throwing session Monday before he signed with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters.

FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal points out that former Astros club president Tal Smith serves as a consultant with the Skeeters, and Rosenthal thinks it’s within the realm of possibility that Clemens could take the mound for Houston next month.

Such a comeback would reset Clemens’ Hall of Fame clock just a couple of months before he’ll be listed on the ballot for the first time. One wonders if that might be part of his motivation here, though; Clemens stands little chance of being elected on the first ballot as is, but push his timetable back another six years after the voters have declared their intentions with Barry Bonds and other suspected cheats and he may well have a better chance of going in immediately.

If Clemens does make it back to the majors, he’d be the game’s first 50-year-old since Minnie Minoso had a two-AB cameo at age 54 in 1980. No one over 50 has ever performed in the majors as anything more than a gimmick.

Brad Ausmus out as Tigers manager

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The Tigers just announced that they will not be bringing Brad Ausmus back as manager in 2018. His contract was going to be up at the end of this season and they have decided not to renew it. Ausmus and his staff will manage the club for the final week of the season.

In the press release announcing the move, Tigers GM Al Avila said “[a]s we transition the ballclub in a new direction, I feel it’s best that we have a new approach and a fresh start with the manager position.” He went on to praise Ausmus for “doing an admirable job under difficult circumstances, especially this season,” a clear reference to the club’s decision at mid-season to blow things up. Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez were traded in July and August, as were some more minor players. The club is clearly embarking on a lengthy rebuild of which Ausmus, who was brought in four years ago to lead a contending team, will not be a part.

In his four seasons at the helm the Tigers are 312-325. He won 90 games and the AL Central in his first season in 2014, but the Tigers were swept out of the ALDS in three games. In the past three seasons they finished fifth, second and will either finish in fourth or fifth this year. Injuries and poor bullpens have been the biggest problem, but clearly this Tigers team was supposed to win more over the past four years.

It’s unclear what direction the Tigers will take in their managerial search, but it’s clear they’re going to go outside of the organization, as Avila said in his statement that the status of the current coaching staff will be contingent on the wishes of whatever new manager they hire.

Happy trails, Brad Ausmus. Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager is now Baseball’s Most Handsome Unemployed coach.

The Mets are doing something really weird with Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey

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Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports that the Mets are going to give Noah Syndergaard the start for tomorrow’s game. But here’s the hitch: he’ll only get one inning and then Matt Harvey will enter in the second inning and go from there. Harvey was originally scheduled to take the start. Syndergaard, of course, has been out since April. Harvey has been pitching under the loosest definition of the term.

I can see, if they are intent on putting Syndergaard in a real game, having him start one rather than come in out of the bullpen for purposes of preparation and routine. At the same time, however, if he’s only able to throw one inning at this point, with a little over a week left in the season, what’s the point of him pitching at all? As for Harvey relieving: he’s kind of a mess right now. Is he someone whose routine you really want to throw off?

I guess this doesn’t hurt anything — at least as long as Syndergaard doesn’t hurt himself throwing in a meaningless game at the end of the season — but it certainly is odd. It makes me wonder if this is some sort of “Dave” or “Moon Over Parador” situation in which the Mets are just trying to create the impression that Syndergaard is still alive.

Could Kevin Kline pitch an inning? Richard Dreyfuss?