Garner: 'Roger Clemens is pitching the fifth game'

Updated: October 25, 2005, 2:20 PM ET news services

HOUSTON -- If the Astros force a Game 5 in the World Series, Roger Clemens is expected to get the nod to start.

Roger Clemens

On Monday, Astros manager Phil Garner said he planned to start Clemens if there was a Game 5 on Thursday night in Houston.

The Houston ace was forced out of Game 1 after only two innings, walking gingerly because of a recurring strained left hamstring that has bothered him since September. The Astros lost the opener 5-3, and now trail 0-2 in the best-of-seven series after a dramatic 7-6 loss to the White Sox on Sunday.

Garner said either Wandy Rodriguez, who worked 3 1/3 shaky innings in relief of Clemens in Game 1, or Ezequiel Astacio, who started 14 games for the Astros this season, would get the nod if Clemens wasn't healthy.

But Garner seemed certain that Clemens would be ready.

"Roger Clemens is pitching the fifth game right now," Garner said.

Clemens was given a cortisone shot after Saturday's game, a baseball official who was updated on Clemens' condition told's Jayson Stark on Sunday. Because Clemens has responded to these shots in the past, the Astros hadn't ruled out the possibility that he could pitch again in this World Series.

"He's just a special individual. Sometimes your will can go a lot farther than your body," teammate Jeff Bagwell said Sunday. "The legend grows every day for him. I just think this could be another special time."

Astros pitching coach Jim 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 Sunday. "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."

Hickey said he thought Clemens tweaked the hamstring on Saturday while making a break to cover first base in the second inning. Clemens, who led the majors with a 1.87 ERA this season, gave up three runs.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report.