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Clemens, Torre to start serving suspensions Friday night

CLEVELAND -- Roger Clemens would rather sit than fight this time.

Clemens declined to appeal the five-game suspension he received
for plunking Toronto's Alex Rios with a pitch earlier this week,
and began serving the penalty when the New York Yankees opened a
three-game series against the Indians on Friday night.

The suspension and a $1,500 fine were imposed Thursday by Major
League Baseball vice president Bob Watson after Clemens drilled
Rios in the middle of the back on Tuesday during a testy three-game
set with the Blue Jays.

Yankees manager Joe Torre, who is also serving a one-game
suspension, said Clemens considered appealing but decided it was
better to get it over with. The penalty means the Rocket's next
start will be pushed back, maybe by just one day.

"We talked about it, but with something like that, it's like
trying to plan for a rainy day,'' Torre said.

In Monday's opener, Toronto's Jesse Litsch threw behind Alex Rodriguez's legs. On Tuesday, Blue Jays right-hander Josh Towers
hit the Yankees third baseman on his right calf with a pitch in the
third inning, clearing both benches and bullpens.

Clemens paid the Blue Jays back by hitting Rios with his first
pitch in the seventh. Clemens and Torre were ejected by plate
umpire Angel Hernandez.

With Torre banned from the dugout on Friday, bench coach Don
Mattingly managed the Yankees.

The Blue Jays had been angry with Rodriguez for a few months.
They felt he distracted Howie Clark on a key popup late in a game
on May 30, yelling at the infielder as A-Rod approached third base.

For his part in the altercations in Toronto, Rodriguez was fined
$1,000 and Torre $750, while Yankees coaches Larry Bowa and Tony
Pena were fined $500 each. Toronto's Matt Stairs, Blue Jays coach
Brian Butterfield and Towers also were fined.

Torre felt the Blue Jays, and especially Towers, deserved
stiffer penalties. He also felt the umpires could have done a
better job understanding the tension between the clubs.

"He [Towers] didn't get anything?'' Torre said. "Oh, he was
fined. I'm surprised. The way things are handled these days, it
kind of encourages more stuff. Years ago, it took care of itself on
the field. It was over and done with. Some umpires don't have a feel
for the game.

"It's often better to use common sense instead of the black and
white letter of the law.''

Torre wandered into the Yankees' clubhouse before batting
practice. He joked that he could only stay there for a short time.

"I was going to go into the stands and watch with my uniform
on, but that's against the rules,'' he said.