Rocket to get cortisone shot, says he'll pitch again

NEW YORK -- Roger Clemens walked onto the field, dressed in
full pinstripes, and stood alongside his New York Yankees'
teammates behind home plate for a team photo Tuesday. He hopes to
rejoin them in games soon.

The Rocket will have a cortisone shot Wednesday on his ailing
right elbow and is confident he will be able to pitch again this
season. But he also hinted that the injury is more serious than the
diagnosis of "inflammation" in his right elbow that was announced
by the team.

Clemens' start was cut short after four innings Monday in New
York's 7-1 loss to Seattle, and he had an MRI exam after the game.
He thought the elbow problem stemmed from a blister on his foot
that caused him to alter his mechanics.

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner never before has had a
cortisone shot to his arm. He will fly to Houston and be examined
by Astros team physician Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff. While the Yankees
said a shot was possible, Clemens said he will have one.

"I'm very optimistic. Even if it takes multiple sessions, I'm
willing to deal with that," Clemens said.

Manager Joe Torre said Mike Mussina will take Clemens' turn this
weekend at Kansas City. For now, Torre is expecting Clemens will
miss just one turn.

"The elbow seems to be fine as far as all the structural
stuff," Torre said. "I'm thinking that he's going to pitch, and
I'm not looking too far down the road for that to happen, either."

Clemens wouldn't reveal exactly what the MRI exam showed. The
45-year-old right-hander, now in his 24th major league season, is
known for his physical and mental toughness.

"I kind of know what it says. I know what the guy read for me
at home," Clemens said. "He's going to tell you something a
little lesser, probably."

Clemens couldn't say whether the injury would require surgery at
the end of the season. Asked whether it was his most serious arm
injury since a shoulder operation 22 years ago, he responded:
"I'll be able to answer that in a month, maybe."

"I'm pushing my body until it starts pushing back. It's pushing
back a little bit," he said. "The muscles and everything else are
just basically shutting down and trying to grab a hold of my arm."

The Rocket rejoined the Yankees on June 9, a little more than a
month after he agreed to a one-year contract worth $28,000,022.
Because he joined the team in midseason, his prorated salary is

Clemens is 6-6 with a 4.45 ERA in 16 starts and one relief
appearance. He is eighth on the career wins list at 354 and second
on the strikeouts list at 4,668, and he was brought in to provide
leadership and stability to a staff decimated by injuries early in
the season.

"I'm committed here. I'm not running out on these guys now,"
Clemens said. "Until I can't do it any more, I'm going to continue
to push forward."

He hasn't had many arm problems since shoulder surgery to repair
torn cartilage in August 1985. For much of his career, his most
serious injuries were to his groin. He said during his last three
starts, by the second inning "my foot's been on fire. It's been

"When I have leg problems, I'm in trouble," he said. "I still
feel that my mind is strong enough to deal with my shoulder and
elbow, that I can still be effective."

Mussina had a 17.69 ERA in his last three starts before he was
replaced in the rotation last weekend by Ian Kennedy, who beat
Tampa Bay in his major league debut. Mussina then allowed two runs
and seven hits over 3 2/3 innings in relief of Clemens on Monday --
the first regular-season relief appearance of Mussina's big league

"I thought his stuff was a lot better than we've seen in his
last three starts," Torre said. "He had a chance to get outside
his routine for a little bit and breathe a little bit."