Clemens gets 2nd chance for grand finale

Given ALCS reprieve, retiring pitcher to start

Fenway fight hearing set


World Series

October 22, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

MIAMI - The grand finale of Roger Clemens' illustrious career was almost a dud.

In Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox grabbed a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning and put two more runners on base. It wasn't exactly a sentimental moment when New York Yankees manager Joe Torre removed him from the game.

Tonight, thanks to his teammates' rally in Game 7 against Boston, Clemens gets a do-over. He'll be making the final start of his career in Game 4 of the World Series opposite Florida right-hander Carl Pavano.

It's not Clemens vs. Pedro Martinez. It's not Clemens against the Red Sox- the team with which he started his career - and Torre said Clemens might have an easier time focusing this way.

"I think there was so much emotion into that last start for him that he really had trouble locking in," Torre said. "So I think he'll be ready to pitch and maybe not try to do too much. It'll be easier than it was against the Red Sox."

Torre said it's possible Clemens would pitch in relief in Game 7, if necessary, so this might not be the last time he takes a major league mound. But when this series ends, so will Clemens' major league career, he said yesterday.

Teammates, such as Mike Mussina, have said they think there's still a possibility Clemens will come back.

"I'm not [coming back]," Clemens said. "I'm dead serious on what I'm doing.

"I'm pretty set on it. There's been some other stuff that's been brought to my attention, as far as [the 2004] Olympics and things like that. It's stuff that's just going to have to wait."

Pavano, 27, grew up in Connecticut and signed with the Red Sox out of high school in 1994, and he has followed Clemens' career closely.

"I got a lot of opportunities to watch him pitch some of his biggest games," Pavano said. "He's definitely a great competitor. And his work ethic is something I really try to follow. ... But coming out [tonight], thinking those things aren't going to do me any good. I have to think of the game plan I'm going to bring to the field and stick to it."

Zimmer's future

Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer disputed a New York Daily News report from last week that he plans to retire when the World Series ends.

"When this is over, everyone will know," he said. "I'll say a lot of things five days from now. Everyone ran [with the Daily News story] and said I was retiring. That's bull. I said I wasn't coming back [to the Yankees], I never said I was retiring."

Yanks' distractions mount

Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson and outfielder Karim Garcia learned yesterday that there will be a Nov. 7 hearing in Boston to determine whether they should face charges for their roles in a bullpen fight at Fenway Park in Game 3 of the ALCS.

Beyond that, Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating a company - Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO - that prescribes nutritional supplements to athletes.

Torre and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman didn't sound concerned about their players being able to focus for the rest of the Series.

"I hope it's not a distraction," Cashman said. "I can't guarantee that it's not, but I hope it's not. Jason knew about this before Game 1 of the Division Series [against Minnesota] and he had a big game in Game 7 against Boston. Jeff and Karim both came back and did well that series. But I'm sure it's on everyone's mind."

Players union executive director Donald Fehr, meanwhile, declined comment on the steroid investigation that subpoenaed Giambi and several other major league players, including San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds.

"We're not going to comment until we know enough about it to have an intelligent comment to make," Fehr said.

Orioles were here first

Pro Player Stadium - site of games 3, 4 and 5 - was built for football in 1987 and originally named Joe Robbie Stadium.

In 1988, Joe Robbie held its first baseball game, the Orioles vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers in a spring training exhibition. The Marlins were born as an expansion franchise five years later.

Around the horn

Yankees leadoff man Alfonso Soriano struck out three times. He has set a record for a postseason by fanning 23 times. ... New York managed three hits - all by Derek Jeter - and one run through seven innings against Josh Beckett. ... The run came on a questionable bases-loaded walk. On a 2-2 count, Beckett threw a fastball to Jorge Posada that veered off the outside corner. Plate umpire Gary Darling called it a ball. The next fastball Darling saw as a bit low.

Staff writer Peter Schmuck contibuted to this article.

World Series schedule

Florida Marlins vs. New York Yankees

(Best of seven; *-if necessary)

New York leads series 2-1

Game 1: Florida 3, New York 2

Game 2: New York 6, Florida 1 Last night: New York 6, Florida 1

Tonight: New York (Clemens 19-9) at Florida (Pavano 14-13), 8:24

Tomorrow: New York (Wells 17-8) at Florida, 8:24 p.m.

*Saturday: Florida at New York, 7:55 p.m.

*Sunday: Florida at New York, 8 p.m.

TV: All games on chs. 45, 5

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