* Boston Red Sox pitching coach Bill Fischer, explaining the makeup of pitching ace Roger Clemens in an article in The New York Times Magazine: "There's something the public doesn't understand about pitchers -- they're freaks. Roger Clemens is a ------- freak. Every great pitcher I have ever known is a ------- freak. Any time you can throw a ball 90-plus miles per hour over the
plate whenever you want, you're a ------- freak of nature."
* How often does this happen? New York Mets left-hander Frank Viola was fuming the other day because he wasn't taken out of a game. He gave up two eighth-inning home runs to blow a lead and wasn't happy for the opportunity.
* Oakland Athletics outfielder Dave Henderson, after he played second base for one inning recently: "Hey, I can catch. All you've got to do is catch it and slap the guy upside his head."
* The San Diego Padres' learned manager, Greg Riddoch, on the way Chicago Cubs fans throw home run balls back out of the bleachers: "You can always count on Chicago. Newton's Law always holds true. For every action, there's always an equal and opposite reaction."
* Chicago White Sox pitcher Melido Perez has had some success since he moved to the bullpen, but he's still complaining about the move. "I still don't like it," he said. "I think my arm can't handle it. But when they bring me in, I always try to do my best."
* The Texas Rangers issued six intentional walks during their 18-inning loss to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday. Rangers pitchers had given out just six intentional walks in the previous 46 games.
* Detroit starter Kevin Ritz's pitching line from hell: Six starts, 9 2/3 innings, 19 hits, 18 runs, 15 earned runs, 20 walks and four strikeouts. Ritz, believe it or not, is scheduled to start again tomorrow.
* The Toronto Blue Jays have had so much trouble with their starting pitching that the club's beat writers have dubbed the rotation "Three men and a maybe."