UPDATE: So much for that. Roger Clemens told Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston tonight that he will not pitch for the Astros this season.
While Astros owner Jim Crane didn’t rule out the possibility of Clemens making a start this month against a non-contending team, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner said he only would have returned if it meant he could play the role of spoiler.
“Why would I want to waste my time running around and getting in shape. I get over to Minute Maid (Park), I’ll crank it up and get it over 90 for a contender. We’ll knock them right out of the playoffs. That would be the fun. Pitching against somebody that’s not in contention wouldn’t be any fun for me.
“It’s not going to happen.”
Berman reports that Clemens is looking forward to helping the Astros in a coaching capacity during spring training next year.
7:22 PM: Roger Clemens said after Friday’s start with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters that he didn’t think he was MLB-ready and was aiming more for spring training next year, but he also said he would “listen” if Astros owner Jim Crane called. It appears Crane hasn’t given up on the possibility yet.
According to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle, Crane said today that he hasn’t ruled out Clemens making a start with the Astros this season. However, he also said Clemens wouldn’t pitch in a game against a playoff contender. That means that if it’s going to happen this year, it would have to happen very soon. The Astros host the Cubs and the Phillies this week while their other two remaining series at home are against the Pirates and Cardinals.
For what it’s worth, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the team has their six-man rotation planned out for the rest of the season and he’s “not expecting any changes.” But that could change, especially if they want to boost those television ratings.
Clemens, 50, has tossed seven scoreless innings over his first two starts with the Skeeters. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007 with the Yankees.
UPDATE, 12:07 p.m. EDT: The Royals have confirmed reports of Yordano Ventura’s death with an official statement. No further details pertaining to the accident have been divulged.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.