Not that it was important or anything, but nearly 20 reporters assembled in the rightfield bleachers to watch Boston ace Roger Clemens throw in the bullpen 2 1/2 hours before last night's game.
Clemens threw 80 pitches, and afterward Boston manager Joe Morgan said he would return to the Red Sox rotation Sunday in New York, pending the expected clearance from club physician Arthur Pappas.
"He felt like he could have pitched today," Morgan said before the Orioles' 4-1 victory over the Red Sox at Memorial Stadium. "The way he threw the ball, I'd say so too."
The Red Sox considered starting Clemens on Friday, but this way he'll be able to pitch the series opener against Toronto a week from Friday, as well as the final game of the season against Chicago if necessary.
Clemens (20-6, 1.98) has missed two starts with severe tendinitis in his right shoulder. He has not pitched since Sept. 4, and in that time the Red Sox's lead over Toronto has gone from 6 1/2 games to none.
All of this has sent New England into its traditional autumn panic, and Clemens' bullpen session yesterday easily qualified as the most significant event at Memorial Stadium in the last month.
Clemens did not comment, but catcher John Marzano said, "He looked great to me. I asked him if he felt OK. He said he felt great. He had really good velocity, just as good as when I caught him in games.
"He was pitching like he was throwing innings," Marzano said, "and he struck out everyone he faced."