TAMPA, Fla. - Roger Clemens could pitch for the New York Yankees as early as May 28 in Toronto.
"I think anything is possible," said Clemens, who is expected to make the first of two minor league starts Friday. "If I come out of the first two decent, they'll pull me aside, and we'll all visit about that for sure. I don't think it's out of the question."
Only two starts in the minors would pit Clemens, 44, against the Blue Jays on May 28 or 29. The next time through the rotation would have Clemens pitching at AL East-leading Boston on June 2 or 3.
Yesterday, Clemens threw 71 pitches during his first bullpen session at the Yankees' minor league complex. He'll likely throw 45 to 60 pitches Friday during his first minor league start for Class A Tampa. He also will work in the bullpen afterward to get his pitch count up to around 90.
"I think I'm right where I need to be to get this under way on Friday," Clemens said at a Legends Field news conference. "Endurance and conditioning, I think I'm very close. I've got to get in a game as quick as possible, and I'll have a good telltale sign of what happens on Saturday morning."
When he rejoined the Astros last year, Clemens agreed to a contract on May 31, made three minor league starts and returned to the majors on June 22.
Clemens, who agreed to a $28,000,022, 1-year contract on May 6, worked out last week in Lexington, Ky., where his son plays for a Houston Astros minor league club.
Clemens threw his split-finger, slider and two-seam and four-seam fastballs yesterday.
"My understanding is his arm is fine. There's no issue with the arm. it's just being able to compete out there and that takes legs," Yankees manager Joe Torre said in Chicago.
"I think what you'll find out in the next two or three starts is where he is conditioningwise as far as competing. Roger never lets himself stray far from being able to play." *