Clemens hopes to pitch Saturday against Pirates

Updated: June 3, 2007, 9:50 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Rocket's liftoff was delayed Monday, but he still might make his return for the Yankees next week.

Roger Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, told 1050 ESPN Radio's Andrew Marchand that the future Hall of Fame right-hander aims to pitch Saturday against the Pirates at Yankee Stadium.

Before Sunday night's game against the Red Sox, Yanks manager Joe Torre confirmed to reporters that Saturday is the focus of the pitcher's efforts.

"We're tentatively looking at possibly next weekend," Torre said. "The only thing I know is he's going to have an MRI [on Monday] and we'll have more information. They'll see if whatever he's dealing with is old or new."

Clemens was scratched from Monday's start against the Chicago White Sox because of a fatigued right groin.

"Roger's optimistic," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Sunday night, but he wouldn't set a timetable for Clemens' return until after Monday's test. Cashman added that it was possible Clemens' next appearance would be in the minors.

"I would not rule anything out," he said.

Torre said the test isn't the final answer either.

"He's going to be the one that has to feel [ready]," Torre said. "We certainly don't want him to say, 'Well, I can pitch with this.'

"It's too important that he goes out there every five days or so [rather than] have one start and then maybe the next start you don't have him. So we want to make sure this gets well."

Clemens first experienced the pain during his last minor league outing, for Triple-A Scranton on Monday. Rather than risk additional injury, he decided to be cautious, the Yankees confirmed during Saturday's game against the Boston Red Sox.

"Well, we're going to need a starter for Monday," Torre said Saturday. "We didn't know until today that he wasn't going to make the start."

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reports that Matt DeSalvo will start for the Yankees in Chicago on Monday.

Cashman spoke to Clemens, who threw off a mound on Saturday.

"He called it a fatigued groin, not a strained groin," Cashman said. "I think he's optimistic it's a short issue. ... I don't think this is that big of a deal."

Making his latest comeback, the 44-year-old Clemens took a prorated share of a $28 million salary hoping to help New York overcome a double-digit deficit in the AL East. He likely would provide an emotional lift, though Torre isn't focused on that.

"We've had a habit of never counting our chickens until they show up," he said, "so we really never got to the point of feeling he was here."

After one start at Class-A Tampa and one at Double-A Trenton, Clemens made what was expected to be his final minor league start Monday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He allowed two hits and struck out six over six scoreless innings.

In other news, first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz will be placed on the disabled list with a broken right wrist after he was hurt in a collision with Boston's Mike Lowell on Saturday.

Torre said the bone that was fractured heals slowly. He expects Mientkiewicz to play again this season, but had no idea how long the first baseman would be sidelined.

"It's still only the first few days of June. Even if it takes him six weeks or so, seven weeks, we're still into July, so I'd be very surprised if he didn't play again," Torre said.

With Jason Giambi already out because of a foot injury, Torre said Josh Phelps will be the team's regular first baseman for the foreseeable future, with Miguel Cairo as the backup. Center fielder Johnny Damon has been taking grounders at first but is expected to keep serving mostly as a designated hitter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.