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.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.