Roger Clemens tosses four-plus scoreless innings for Sugar Land Skeeters

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UPDATE: Per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Clemens told ESPN after his outing that he “would listen” if Astros owner Jim Crane calls, but doesn’t think he’s close to pitching in an MLB game.

10:01 PM: With his son Koby behind the plate, Roger Clemens tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings tonight against the Long Island Ducks in his second start with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters.

Clemens gave up just two hits — both singles — while striking out one and walking none. The 50-year-old right-hander retired the first two hitters he faced in the fifth before hugging his son and leaving to a standing ovation at Constellation Field. Jim Bowden of ESPN.com notes that he sat mostly in the 86-88 mph range with his fastball while Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reports that he threw 33 out of 54 pitches for strikes.

Clemens tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings in his first start with the Skeeters on August 25 and topped out at 88 mph. While the Astros were expected to have a scout in attendance for tonight’s outing, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner said earlier this week that he’s “just having fun” and doesn’t expect to pitch in the big leagues this year.

Josh Harrison wants out of Pittsburgh

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In the wake of the Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole trades, Pirates infielder Josh Harrison released a statement to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic today in which he said he’d like to be traded if the Pirates are going to rebuild over the next couple of years.

Harrison said “If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved, that I also am traded,” He couched it all in is love of Pittsburgh and his desire to win in Pittsburgh, adding “I want what is best for the organization that gave me a chance to be a Big Leaguer,” but he said “I just lost two of my closest friends in the game. Cole and Cutch were not just friends, they were the best pitcher and best position player on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, I am the most tenured member of the Pirates, I want to win, I want to contend, I want to win championships in 2018, 2019 and beyond.”

Harrison is under team control on a very team-friendly contract that has him locked up through 2018 with the Pirates holding pretty cheap team options for 2019 and 2020. He’ll make $10 million this year and if the Pirates want to keep him they’ll owe him $10.5 million in 2019 and $11.5 million in 2020, with $1 million and $500,000 buyouts, respectively. Harrison played second, third and in the outfield in 2017 and hit .272/.339/.432 with 16 homers and 12 stolen bases.

Part of Harrison’s statement included the phrase “baseball is a business.” That is correct, and when Harrison signed his deal he had to know that the Pirates could blow things up, trade him or anything else during its term. That’s simply a risk one runs when one agrees to a deal that buys out free agency years. At the same time, it can’t be at all fun to be part of a tear-down process the likes of which is now getting underway in Pittsburgh, and it’d be hard to say any of us would feel differently than Harrison does if we were in his shoes.

All of that said, Harrison may very well get his wish. Rosenthal writes that the Mets, Yankees, and Brewers are among the teams with reported interest in Harrison. There are probably way more who would make a good offer for him given his versatility and given how often recent World Series winners have featured a player with exactly that kind of versatility (think Ben Zobrist and Marwin Gonzalez).

My guess is that he’s either going to be dealt now or at the deadline this coming season.