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.
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .