Clemens likely to make first start when Yankees meet White Sox

Updated: May 30, 2007, 9:02 AM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Roger Clemens is ready to return to the New York Yankees' rotation and likely will start at the Chicago White Sox next Monday.

Clemens pitched six shutout innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday. Yankees manager Joe Torre said before Tuesday's game against Toronto that he'll stay with Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte as his starters for this weekend's series at AL East-leading Boston.

"I'm not disappointed that he's not pitching at Fenway," Torre said. "I don't think that series needs any more hype than it gets every time we play it, whether it's in Fenway or at the Stadium. You'd obviously be tempted if you had a kid pitching and you can replace him with Roger Clemens. When you have Wang, Moose and Andy, there's really not the temptation to do that."

Torre wasn't ready to finalize his decision.

"Until I talk to him personally, it's tough to pick a particular day," he said.

If Clemens is put on the major league roster Monday, he would receive $18,207,665 this season, a prorated share of his $28,000,022 salary.

The 44-year-old right-hander struck out six and gave up two hits and two walks in Monday's start, showing improved command from last week's outing at Double-A Trenton.

"He's going to be 45 but he plays like a 20-year-old with that enthusiasm," Torre said. "It's going to be a big lift. He's going to help us but he's not going to carry us."

New York entered Wednesday 14½ games behind Boston in the AL East and 8½ games back of Detroit in the wild-card race. Clemens will be the 12th starting pitcher used by New York this season.

Torre said the difficult season has shown him a new side of his team.

"The one thing about it, it humanizes these guys," Torre said. "When they perform the way they're supposed to, they look machinelike at times. They're showing you they can press like everybody else."

Torre said the recent struggles are unlike any he's seen since becoming New York's manager in 1996.

"A couple of years ago we got off to a bad start and you had to poke them a little bit just to bite and scratch and stuff," he said. "That's not the case here, unfortunately. I wish that's all there was to it."

After an April in which their pitching staff was ravaged by injuries, scoring runs is the latest problem for the Yankees, who have scraped out just 12 runs over their past four games. New York was shutout for 7 2/3 innings Monday before Hideki Matsui hit a long two-run homer, but Torre said one hit is not enough to spark the whole offense.

"We need a game," he said. "We need guys up and down the lineup to contribute and feel good about themselves. Hopefully today is the day we start. I'm going to continue to believe that until it happens."

Outfielder Johnny Damon said the whole team has been plagued by inconsistency, but said it has hurt most on offense.

"We have three or four guys in the bullpen who have done their job, two starters who have been consistent," Damon said. "Only three guys on the offensive side are having their normal year or better. When you have six guys not pulling their weight on the offensive side, everyone starts wondering what's going on. That's the biggest thing."

Also Tuesday, the Yankees said designated hitter Jason Giambi is tentatively scheduled to have a cortisone shot in his injured left heel on Thursday's off day in New York.

"Hopefully, by Friday it's comfortable enough to play," Torre said. "We had no choice there. That's the best we can do. The fact that we had an off day is a plus for us."

Giambi, who started at designated hitter Tuesday, began the game in a 4-for-44 slide since May 5 with one homer and one RBI.

"Singles aren't going to get it done," he said. "I've got to be able to drive the ball. We can't afford to let ourselves get any further back."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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