Yanks' brass declares Clemens 'ready to go' after Triple-A outing
Clemens pitched six shutout innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a 2-0 victory over Toledo on Monday, leaving to a standing ovation from an overflow crowd in what was likely his final minor league tuneup.
"My arm feels great," the seven-time Cy Young Award winner said. "I'll have, hopefully, normal soreness tomorrow and just go from there. I don't know what to tell you guys. I have to wait and hear from the guys who were watching, how they assess it."
Yankees vice president Billy Connors, who has been monitoring Clemens throughout his minor league tour, talked to general manager Brian Cashman after the game and pronounced Clemens ready for the major league rotation.
"This was the step that he needed," Connors said. "He's ready to go."
Clemens struck out six and gave up two hits and two walks, showing improved command from last Wednesday's outing at Double-A Trenton. The 44-year-old right-hander is on track to pitch for the Yankees this weekend at Boston or next week at Chicago.
New York dropped 13½ games behind Boston in the AL East following a 7-2 loss at Toronto, its fourth straight defeat and eighth in 11 games.
"My guess is we'll know something possibly tomorrow or wait for his throw day on Wednesday," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
On Sunday, Cashman said the team would evaluate Clemens' performance Monday before deciding when he would join them.
"I have expectations to do well," Clemens said. "We still have a long part of the season left, and the talent that this team has at the major league level is like none other. It just has to come out, and guys will get it going. I'm sure they're all feeling the same way. They know it's there, they just need to put it all together."
Clemens threw 58 of 89 pitches for strikes. His two walks came on full-count pitches, and he was primarily in the strike zone when he needed to be. He struck out Timo Perez to end the first, and fanned at least one batter in each inning except the sixth.
"When he missed, they were good misses," Scranton pitching coach Dave Eiland said.
Clemens gave up a sharply hit single in the second and a ground single in the sixth, and never allowed more than one runner in an inning. In his prior outing, he allowed three runs, six hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings.
"In Trenton, the walks might have been there, but I was trying to do things I might not normally do," Clemens said. "I don't know what the experts are saying, but it is what it is. I'm just happy to have one more phase under my belt."
His outing drew a crowd of 11,310 to PNC Field, 1,000 over capacity.
In the opening inning, Clemens got two weak grounders and struck out Perez on a split-finger fastball.
Clemens needed just 12 pitches to get through the first but the second started with a 10-pitch at-bat by Ryan Raburn. With two outs, Mike Hessman got the Mud Hens' first hit of the game, lining a 1-2 pitch into left field for a single. Ramon Santiago then struck out.
In the sixth, the Mud Hens got their second hit on a grounder that first baseman Eric Duncan knocked down but couldn't turn into an out. Raburn hit an inning-ending groundout, sending Clemens off the field to a loud ovation.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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