Clemens due to make minor league start Friday

Updated: May 16, 2007, 5:39 PM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- Roger Clemens could pitch for the New York Yankees as early as May 28 in Toronto.

"I think anything is possible," said Clemens, who's expected to make the first of two minor league starts Friday. "If I come out of the first two decent, they'll pull me aside, and we'll all visit about that for sure. I don't think it's out of the question."

"I have the same question you all do, is my body going to hold up? I can't answer that. All I can do is do the work and get ready for that."
-- Roger Clemens

Just two starts in the minors would pit the 44-year-old against the Blue Jays on May 28 or 29. The next time through the rotation would have Clemens pitching at AL East-leading Boston on June 2 or 3.

On Tuesday, Clemens threw 71 pitches during his first bullpen session at the Yankees' minor league complex. He'll likely throw 45-to-60 pitches Friday during his first minor league start for Class-A Tampa. He also will work in the bullpen afterward to get his pitch count up to around 90.

"I think I'm right where I need to be to get this under way on Friday," Clemens said. "Endurance and conditioning, I think I'm very close. I've got to get in a game as quick as possible, and I'll have a good telltale sign of what happens on Saturday morning."

When he rejoined the Astros last year, Clemens agreed to a contract on May 31, made three minor league starts and returned to the majors on June 22.

Roger Clemens
AP Photo/Steve NesiusClemens threw his split-finger, slider and two-seam and four-seam fastballs during Tuesday's workout in Tampa.

Clemens, who agreed to a $28,000,022, one-year contract on May 6, worked out last week in Lexington, Ky., where his son plays for a Houston Astros minor league club.

"I'm getting closer," he said. "I want to be able to perform like I'm supposed to. Hold up my end of the deal. That's the pressure that comes along with it. I have the same question you all do, is my body going to hold up? I can't answer that. All I can do is do the work and get ready for that."

Clemens threw his split-finger, slider and two-seam and four-seam fastballs Tuesday.

"My understanding is his arm is fine. There's no issue with the arm. it's just being able to compete out there and that takes legs," Yankees manager Joe Torre said in Chicago.

"I think what you'll find out in the next two or three starts is where he is conditioning-wise as far as competing. Roger never lets himself stray far from being able to play."

"He was on the money," said Yankees minor leaguer James LaSala, who caught Clemens. "Great stuff. Great command."

Clemens also discussed mechanics with several pitchers, including promising rookie right-hander Phil Hughes, Jeff Karstens and minor leaguer Joba Chamberlain, while working on the mound.

"I enjoy teaching," Clemens said. "I enjoy working with them, talking to them and trying to answer their questions. I give them credit, they've asked some really detailed questions."

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner started his workout by jogging through the area around the complex. He also took part in fielding drills during his hour on the field.

Clemens said he has no idea if this will be his final season.

"How can I answer that?" Clemens said with a smile. "I'm doing so great at retirement. I've been telling you for what, how many years now? I wish I knew that."

Clemens said he has talked with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who lives in Tampa, but hadn't seen the Boss in person. ... Clemens said he has not been contacted by representatives of the Mitchell commission, which is investigating steroids use in baseball. "I don't know anything about that," Clemens said. ... Hughes, on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury, has started a running program. He hasn't reached the point yet to where he can throw off a half-mound.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press