Here is the lineup:
Pregame chatter: Kevin Devaney, who followed Clemens for his minor-league starts, wrote a story on his return for today’s paper. … Interesting that Phelps is getting a shot at first base. Perhaps Cairo hasn’t won the job just yet. … The Pirates placed Salomon Torres on the DL with an elbow injury and called up Masumi Kuwata from Indianapolis. This will be very big news in Japan. Kuwata was a standout there for years who came to the majors at the end of his career.
I’m not covering the game today but I can imagine the scene in the clubhouse. There is a certain smell on the days when Clemens is pitching. Yes, smell. The Rocket has this pre-game routine he goes through that includes coating his arm with this hot balm and it stinks the place up. He also stalks around a bit, almost like a football player. One of the rules of the road for writers is that you don’t talk to the starter before the game, other than maybe to say hello. With Roger you don’t even do that. Jeter and Posada will be happy today. They love playing with Clemens.
Whether you think the Yankees were right or wrong to spend so much money on the guy, just appreciate the fact that Clemens is the greatest pitcher of his generation and one of the best two or three pitchers in the history of the game. Outside of Cy Young himself, there may be nobody better.
UPDATE, 3:35 P.M.: Checking in via a friend’s BlackBerry here … That was a quality start, statistically anyway. If Clemens gives them that 15 times, he’s going to win a bunch of games. Look at this way, it beats Matt DeSalvo walking off the mound in the second inning or more of Kei Igawa nibbling.