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.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.
Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.
On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”
Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.
MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”
Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.
The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.