|Clemens set to start Game 3 for Yankees|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 02 October 2007 15:09|
Clemens, who has not pitched since Sept. 16 because of a hamstring injury, faced 18 batters, then took grounders on the mound, fielded bunts and also practiced covering first base.
``It was a very good report,'' manager Joe Torre said after speaking with Yankees vice president Billy Connors, who attended the session. ``Everything got high marks.''
Clemens was to rejoin the Yankees on Wednesday in Cleveland, a day before their playoff opener.
Ian Kennedy, who will miss the division series with a back strain, played catch for 20 minutes and was scheduled for a bullpen session Wednesday. Joba Chamberlain and other young Yankees hope to attend Kennedy's wedding on Saturday in suburban St. Louis.
Hideki Matsui said his right knee felt much better, two days after it was drained of fluid to reduce inflammation. Torre plans to start Johnny Damon in left field and use Matsui or righty-hitting Shelley Duncan as the DH against left-hander C.C. Sabathia in the opener. The lefty-hitting Matsui is 0-for-9 against Sabathia.
Duncan, a son of former St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan, recalled going to his first World Series game - when Kirk Gibson hit that famous home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers against Oakland in 1988.
With sinkerballer Chien-Ming Wang starting the opener, Doug Mientkiewicz will likely start at first base over Jason Giambi. Mientkiewicz, a far better defensive first baseman, could start the majority of postseason games for New York.
``Jason I think right now is considered more of a DH guy who could play first base,'' Torre said. ``Right now I'm leaning toward Doug.''
FEELIN' FINE: Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero, nursing a bruised forearm, will be the designated hitter for Game 1 on Wednesday against Boston.
``Right now, Vlad Guerrero is throwing the ball much better than he has in the last 10 days or so,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``I think he will become an option for right field at some point this series, but he will DH.''
Guerrero was hit by a pitch in a Sept. 26 loss to Texas. He played in just one of the Angels' last three games, going 2-for-2 with a homer against Oakland on Friday.
In all, Guerrero hit .324 with 27 homers and 125 RBIs for the Angels.
NOT US: Jim Bunning is ready to veto the idea that his 1964 Phillies had the biggest collapse of all time. His new vote is for the 2007 Mets.
``You know what that did to me? That took me off about a 45-year hook that I was stuck on from 1964 to 2007,'' the U.S. Senator from Kentucky said Tuesday. ``The Mets' collapse outdid the Phillies' in '64.''
The Phillies held a 6 1/2-game lead with 12 to play in 1964, only to blow the NL pennant by losing 10 straight.
The Mets became the first major league team that failed to finish in first place after owning a lead of seven games or more with 17 remaining.
``I'm sorry for the Mets, because they will never forget it,'' Bunning said. ``No matter how many times they say, 'Well, let's go on with next year,' you can't believe that you blew seven games with 17 to go. It's hard to imagine.''
BRING HIM BACK: Cubs manager Lou Piniella plans to start ace Carlos Zambrano on three days' rest if their series against Arizona goes four games.
``If anybody can pitch on three days' rest in our rotation, Carlos can,'' Piniella said before his team worked out Tuesday at Chase Field.
Zambrano will start the opener Wednesday night. Ted Lilly will pitch Game 2 on Thursday night, followed by Rich Hill in Game 3 on Saturday at Wrigley Field.
Pitching Zambrano on short rest would allow Lilly to pitch on his regular rest if the series goes to a fifth game, Piniella said.
Zambrano pitched on three days' rest once this year. He took the loss on Sept. 18 against Cincinnati, allowing four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.
A TONY CHOICE: Opting for postseason experience and left-handed power, Arizona manager Bob Melvin will start veteran Tony Clark at first base instead of Conor Jackson in Game 1 on Wednesday night.
The 35-year-old Clark, who played for New York Yankees in the 2004 playoffs, is one of only four Diamondbacks with postseason experience.
``He gives us a lot of things,'' Melvin said.
The switch-hitting Clark hit .249 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs this season, and 15 of the homers and 48 of the RBIs came against right-handers. Arizona faces Cubs righty Carlos Zambrano in the opener.
The right-handed Jackson hit .284 with 15 homers and 60 RBIs.
Given a choice of rookie right fielders, Melvin will start Jeff Salazar over Justin Upton. Salazar hit .277 with one homer and 10 RBIs; Upton hit .221 with two homers and 11 RBIs, and struck out once every 3.7 at-bats.
Upton was hit by a pitch on the wrist last weekend at Colorado, but Melvin said an X-ray revealed no damage.
``He's considerably better today,'' Melvin said. ``He will take batting practice and so forth, so I don't think it's an issue going forward.''
BAD CALL: When the Phillies traded outfielder Bobby Abreu to the Yankees last year, general manager Pat Gillick said he didn't expect Philadelphia to contend again until 2008.
``You guys are going to call me a liar for one game?'' Gillick said, getting huge laughs. ``If we lost that game Sunday, you might not be sitting here right now and it might be 2008.''
MAKING THE CALLS: Bruce Froemming, Gary Darling, Ed Montague and Dale Scott will serve as crew chiefs for the first round of the playoffs.
Froemming, who will retire after this season, will work his 24th postseason series. He'll be behind the plate for Game 1 of the New York Yankees-Cleveland matchup. Laz Diaz, Ron Kulpa, Fieldin Culbreth, Gerry Davis and Jim Wolf will be on Froemming's crew.
Scott will handle the Colorado-Philadelphia series. The rest of the umpiring crew will be Jim Reynolds, Chuck Meriwether, Jeff Kellogg, Derryl Cousins and Ed Hickox.
Montague will call the series between the Chicago Cubs and Arizona. Sam Holbrook, Greg Gibson, Mike Everitt, Mike Reilly and Mark Carlson will join Montague.
Darling will be at home plate when the Los Angeles Angels play Boston. His crew will include Dan Iassogna, Brian Runge, Ted Barrett, Tim Tschida and CB Bucknor.
BIG DOINGS IN DENVER: The start of the Colorado Avalanche's game Sunday was moved up an hour to accommodate the NL playoffs.
The change will allow local fans to watch the Denver Broncos kick off against San Diego at 2:15 p.m. local time, the San Jose-Avs NHL game at 5 p.m. and Game 3 of the Colorado Rockies' series against the Philadelphia Phillies at 8 p.m.
``This coming Sunday will be a very special day in Colorado major league sports history and we wanted everyone to be able to attend these three events if they wished to do so,'' Avs general manger Francois Giguere said.