Clemens finally pulls out, a long time after team did

September 28, 1992|By Dan Shaughnessy | Dan Shaughnessy,Boston Globe

This is the year of living dangerously for Boston pro sports fans, and not even Roger Clemens will be spared.

Clemens' season started a week late and now it's over a week early. He suffered a groin pull yesterday and had to walk off the mound before throwing a pitch at the ripe-for-elimination Orioles.

After the game, a 6-1 Red Sox victory, Clemens sounded like he's ready to do what his teammates did long ago -- put it on the shelf for the winter.

"What's the point at this point?" Clemens said when asked about one Commentary

or two more starts in this final week. "What am I going to do? Win one more game? It think it's all academic. I don't think it means anything.

"I've been coming in and putting up good numbers, but they're lost because of the type of team we have."

Amen.

For several months we've been reminding ourselves that Clemens is the only reason to watch the 1992 Dread Sox stagger to the finish. Every fifth day Clemens would rise out of the toxic waste and give Red Sox fans their money's worth.

Now even that's gone. Clemens is listed as day-to-day, but this same injury put Bruce Hurst out for six weeks in 1986. Clemens acknowledges, "This is something that could take two months."

Clemens said he felt something pop in his upper right groin area when he threw his second warmup pitch in the bullpen before the game. He went into the clubhouse and had it wrapped, but he knew he might not be able to pitch.

When he went out for the bottom of the first, he threw about five tosses to Tony Pena before giving up. Pena came out and told him there was no velocity. Then manager Butch Hobson and trainer Charlie Moss came out and made the call for Joe Hesketh.

After the game, the Red Sox said they probably would have Clemens fly home to see team physician/owner Arthur Pappas.

The only thing we know for sure is that we'll never be told the true condition of Clemens' injuries. General manager Lou Gorman is on record saying the ballclub will lie if that's what the Rocket wants. Moss in 1986 intentionally planted a story that Clemens was hurt when the pitcher was not hurt. Managers Joe Morgan and Hobson at times have been kept in the dark when the Rocket is hurt.

"I've had strains before that I've been able to tolerate," said Clemens. "But this is more sore than that. I'd still like to know the extent. If it's pulled away from the bone ..."

He at first sounded resigned to forfeiting the Cy Young trophy for 1992. He said, "I've had my chances at that. It's just not going to work out. Everything is so much of an effort this year."

Later, when he was asked if he thought he could win his fourth Cy Young with the numbers he has (18-11, 2.41 ERA, 11 complete games, five shutouts, 246 2/3 innings, 208 strikeouts, 62 walks), Clemens said, "Yeah. I would say. We'll just have to wait and see. Sure, I'd like to be up there with [Steve] Carlton. It's meaningful in the long run."

Winning 20 for a last-place team probably would have clinched the trophy. But he's going to have to settle for 18. And he didn't win after Sept. 7.

If Clemens is done for the year, the Red Sox would be wise to prohibit him from traveling to Japan with a major league All-Star team starting Oct. 30.

"I've committed myself to going over there and I know they're looking forward to me coming over there," he said. "But now I've got to think about the offseason. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize that."

Why even try to pitch again until next year? "You're right," he answered. "What's the sense? It's been a tough year all around."

We will remember that he set the tone with his unannounced February no-show in Winter Haven, Fla. He made the new manager look like a nitwit and Hobson never recovered. When Clemens finally showed, he did everything he always does. He did all the work and was Boston's best player. He tossed a few hamburger buns and ripped Wade Boggs, but otherwise did little to tarnish his reputation as baseball's best pitcher.

They were engraving his name on Cy Young Four in early September, but then he finally succumbed to the plague that infected the 1992 Red Sox.

The Rocket is grounded. No more launches in '92.

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