Yanks let Clemens heal for playoffs

The ailing veteran likely won't pitch in the regular season.

By Eduardo A. Encina, Times Staff Writer
Published September 26, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - The Yankees had the opportunity to clinch a postseason berth Tuesday at Tropicana Field, but future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens wasn't on the mound to give it to them.

Instead, the Yankees held the 45-year-old right-hander out of his start with a sore left hamstring, and it appears he won't pitch in another regular-season game because New York wants to make sure he is ready for the postseason.

"I think that why they're pressing so hard to protect that, because if I go backward at all then an October date, I'd be in trouble for that," Clemens said. "I'm going to try to keep myself from myself, if that makes any sense."

Just less than four hours before the scheduled first pitch, the Yankees replaced Clemens with Japanese rookie left-hander Kei Igawa. Clemens said he felt good throwing in the outfield during a side session Monday at the Yankees' minor-league complex in Tampa, but after the workout there was a concern with his ability to make quick movements, such as covering a base.

"I still think it's improving every day just by listening to what our trainers are saying," Clemens said. "There was a little swelling, but I ran a bit in the deep end of the pool to try to get that motion going."

Clemens, who is 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 18 games, has made just one start since Sept.3. He needed two cortisone shots for a sore elbow and suffered from blisters in his right foot before the hamstring injury, which occurred while running Thursday. He was initially scheduled to pitch Saturday.

Torre all but said that Clemens' regular season was over. The manager said Clemens might participate in a simulated game over the week to keep his arm live, but that would likely be all the work he does.

"He's feeling better," Torre said.

"The frustration comes from not feeling the way he wants to feel right now."

When Clemens, knowing his body over his 24-year career, was asked if he believed he would be ready by the postseason, he gave an immediate response.

"Yes, I'm confident."