Roger Clemens was scheduled to pitch for the New York Yankees against the Chicago White Sox tonight. ESPN even put the game on its schedule to celebrate the Rocket’s return. But fatigue in his groin has delayed the comeback and he hopes to make his first real start of the season on Saturday against the Pirates.
However, according to this report, GM Brian Cashman says that it’s possible that Clemens’ next start could be in the minors.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees Triple-A affiliate, is playing against our hometown Buffalo Bisons this week. After Clemens’ MRI in Tampa, scheduled for today, it’s possible that he could pitch here in Buffalo sometime between Tuesday and Friday. It’s unlikely, but possible.
But that possibility brings about a world of excitement. Two years ago, two former MVPs on rehab assignments squared off in Buffalo. Now Frank Thomas and Juan Gonzalez were big stars in their day, but they weren’t much of a draw here. Sure it was a nice story and a great trivia tidbit (the only two former MVPs to play against each other in a minor leauge game). But bringing Clemens in to pitch in a predominantly Yankees market would be huge. The game would sell out within ten minutes of his start being announced. ESPN would probably show up and it would be the top story on every local newscast. For one night, the majority of the crowd might actually cheer against the home team, if only for a few innings.
If nothing else, it would be fun. To have a future Hall of Famer take the mound in a minor league baseball town like Buffalo would be a blast. And since Clemens is still pitching well, it wouldn’t be like John Kinsella seeing a washed up Shoeless Joe play under an alias in some throw-away league. It would be more like having Shoeless Joe, in mid-season form, playing in our little backyard stadium just for us.
It is unlikely. After all, the Yankess Double-A affiliate in Trenton also have a homestand this week. If he does decide to make another minor league appearance, why wouldn’t the Yanks front office try to make it closer to “home?” I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, but I’m still holding out hope. Stranger things have happened.