Astros haven't ruled Clemens out

10/24/2005 - Houston Astros

CHICAGO -- Roger Clemens' left hamstring was sore enough late Saturday night that he was given a cortisone shot after the game, ESPN.com was told by a baseball official who was updated Sunday on Clemens' condition.

Because Clemens has responded to these shots in the past, the Astros haven't ruled out the possibility that he can pitch again in this World Series.

However, if Clemens can't make his Game 5 start as scheduled Thursday, Astros pitching coach Jim Hickey said it's unlikely the club would opt to bring back Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt or Brandon Backe on short rest to make up for Clemens' absence.

"It could happen," Hickey said. "But I don't think that's what's going to happen. But things change real quick, especially if you find yourself in a hole. But I just don't think that would happen. It's not very probable right now."

Instead, the Astros would probably start either Wandy Rodriguez, who worked 3 1/3 shaky innings in relief of Clemens on Saturday, or Ezequiel Astacio, who started 14 games for the Astros this season.

Hickey said that while Clemens' hamstring issues began in late August or early September, his health had actually been improving until Saturday.

"Once he first tweaked it, it was a two- or three-start kind of thing," Hickey said. "Then he started to get some other aches and pains, to some extent because he was trying to compensate for the hamstring. But I really thought he was past it. He was able to make two or three starts before this with no effects at all."

Both Hickey and Astros manager Phil Garner were vague about Clemens' condition publicly before Sunday's game, saying they hadn't conferred with the team's medical staff on the matter. So they continued to describe Clemens as being "day-to-day."

"I'm not trying to keep anything from you," Garner said. "You just don't count him out."

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.