My father said he saw him years later playing under a madeup name in some 10th rate league in North Carolina. He said he had put on 50 pounds and the spring was gone from his step, but he could still hit. Dad used to say nobody could hit like Shoeless Joe.
-Ray Kinsella, Field of Dreams
At the age of 50, Roger Clemens is heavier and it appears as though the spring in his step has been weighed down not only by that additional weight, but also by the five years of life he’s experienced since he retired from baseball. On Saturday, he will pitch in a professional baseball game for the Sugar Land Skeeters, of the independent Atlantic League. Above, we see his first mound session for his new team.
So, how did this all come about? According to Michael Kirk, the Skeeters director of baseball operations:
Gary Gaetti [the team's manager], he’s known Roger a long time. They are very friendly. They had exchanged text messages for months. Then about a month and half ago, it started to get more serious. Two or three weeks ago, [Clemens' agent] Randy Hendricks got in the mix, then I started thinking this isn’t just two friends talking. We started ramping up a little bit. He threw for us today and we liked what we saw.
What the team saw was an 87-88 miles per hour fastball, a slider and a splitter. It was a repertoire also spotted by former Houston Astros President Tal Smith:
Surprisingly good. I guess I didn’t really have any doubts knowing his work ethic. He’s in incredible shape. He threw to hitters and then threw to hitters under game conditions. He threw very well. His mechanics are great.
However the most important witness to the whole proceedings was an actual current scout for the Houston Astros. As Baseball America points out, most players playing in the Atlantic League, including Clemens’ new teammates Scott Kazmir, Jason Lane and Tim Redding, are hoping to sign on with an affiliated club at some point. However, it’s unlikely that Clemens would hope to “parlay his time in Sugar Land into a shot at getting back to the majors.”
A second start has not yet been scheduled. And the team’s president Matt O’Brien admits that the contract he’s discussed with Clemens is of the day-to-day variety, and may not even extend to a second start.
And The Rest
Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw treated baseball fans to an incredible pitching duel last night, both throwing ten strikeouts with no walks over eight innings, something that’s only happened three times before in MLB history. [Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area]
There might have been an alright game in Washington last night as well. [Federal Baseball]
The Boston Red Sox have fired pitching coach Bob McClure. [Over The Monster]
The Oakland A’s have acquired shortstop Stephen Drew from the Arizona Diamondbacks. [Athletics Nation]
The San Diego Padres are set to release shortstop Jason Bartlett. [Gaslamp Ball]
The dynamics of baseball players and fans in the outfield. [ESPN]
How the Oakland A’s might combat MLB blocking their move to San Jose. [Field Of Schemes]
The Atlanta Braves have signed free agent first baseman Lyle Overbay as a left-handed bat off the bench. [Capitol Avenue Club]
If you were either the Boston Red Sox or Los Angeles Angels, would you be interested in a shit-for-shat trade involving John Lackey and Vernon Wells? [Twitter]
Washington Nationals first round draft pick Lucas Giolito signed just before the deadline for $2.925 million, and now after just one Minor League start his elbow is injured again. [ESPN]
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick is just so hot right now. [RotoGraphs]
Giancarlo Stanton continues to take batting practice during regular season plate appearances. [Fish Tank]