Sunday, May 13, 2007

Looks like Clemens is on

The Yankees just announced that Roger Clemens is tentatively slated to make his first minor league tune-up start on Friday for High-A Tampa against Fort Myers. While nothing has been announced beyond that, one only needs to look at the schedules for Tampa, the Thunder, and Triple-A Scranton to see when and where he would be slated to pitch next: Wednesday, May 23 at Waterfront Park against the Portland Sea Dogs.

Get your tickets now.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Paying the piper

The Eastern League, in its typically clandestine and media-un friendly way, lowered the boom on the Rock Cats and Thunder yesterday for their bench-clearing brawl last Sunday at New Britain Stadium:

Rock Cats reliever J.P. Martinez, who threw high and inside to Thunder backup catcher Jason Brown to begin the ninth inning, was suspended three games and fined $300. So was Brown, who promptly charged the mound after the buzzing.

Thunder reliever Edwar Ramirez and New Britain infielder Luke Hughes also got three-game suspensions and $300 fines. Sunday's incident began at the end of the 8th inning, when Hughes struck out swinging at a Ramirez changeup. Hughes complained about Ramirez throwing him changeups, and the two got into it, albeit without punches being thrown.

Also given the same penalties were infielders Aarom Baldiris (Thunder) and Brock Peterson (Rock Cats). Every player who got involved, which basically means every player except those who were in the stands charting pitches, were fined $100.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

More on Clemens

The first part of Roger Clemens' tune-up schedule is reportedly set. He'll report to the Yankees' minor league complex on Monday and throw in the bullpen on Tuesday.

The Yankees aren't committing to anything more than that at this point. If they decide he is ready to pitch in an actual game after that bullpen session, the rest of his schedule could unfold like this (and please remember that this is just an educated guess):

May 17, 18, or 19: Start for High-A Tampa at Legends Field
May 22, 23, or 24: Start for the Double-A Thunder at Waterfront Park vs. Portland (the game on the 24th is at 11:05 a.m., so don't count on that one)
May 27, 28, or 29: Start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at PNC Field
June 1, 2, or 3: Return to the major leagues at Fenway Park (as if the Yankees just being in town wasn't enough to get Red Sox nation riled up)

So it looks like it will come down to that bullpen session on Tuesday. If he's ready to go in a game after that, the Thunder can start to make their plans for a Rocket Landing.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Rocket Re-launch

The Yankees just announced that they have brought back Roger Clemens. And they made the announcement in style too: during the seventh inning stretch, they posted the announcement on the jumbotron in center field and Clemens addressed the crowd.

Like he did during his re-launch with the Astros last year, Clemens will make several tune-up starts in the minors (possibly including with the Thunder, but obviously no word yet). Clemens said on YES that he'd like to make his first major league start by the beginning of June.

Two thoughts on this:

1. How the heck were the Yankees able to keep this a secret from the press? There are a lot of damn good, well-connected reporters on that beat, and while many predicted this would happen, no one had reported it as fact.

2. Clemens will no doubt help the Yankees rotation a great deal, and he can be a good mentor for Hughes and their other young guys. But don't expect Clemens to put up the gaudy ERA numbers he had with the Astros the last couple of seasons. The American League, in particular the AL East, is far tougher to pitch against than the National League.

UPDATE: GM Brian Cashman just said that a plan, including when and where he'll make his tune-up starts, will be worked out in the coming days. He'll begin his tune-up work at the Yankees complex in Tampa.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Tough break

CF Brett Gardner broke a bone in his right hand last night when he tried to swing at a Brian Duensing pitch and got hit by the ball. He went on the DL yesterday and will be out 4-6 weeks.

As fortune would have it, the Yankees sent OF Jamal Strong down from Triple-A Scranton before last night's game to take the roster spot held by the promoted Chase Wright. Gardner's spot on the roster was filled by RHP Rob Zimmerman, a free agent signee. From everything I've looked at, Zimmerman last pitched at the end of last season for Double-A Arkansas in the Angels' organization.

I've been told that Zimmerman will be a reliever, as he has been for much of his pro career. The Thunder will still need a starting pitcher for Tuesday's doubleheader at Portland. Since the Yankees need to clear a spot in the Tampa rotation for Joba Chamberlain to come off the DL, logic had suggested that 2006 top draft pick Ian Kennedy, or possibly Elvys Quezada, would be promoted to make that start. Now who knows what is going to happen.

UPDATE: I learned this morning from a source in Tampa that Zimmerman has been at extended spring training, and hasn't been particularly impressive. Also, Scott Patterson is slated, as of right now, to start the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader. So it looks like no Ian Kennedy for now.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ehlers to the DL

The Thunder have placed Cody Ehlers on the disabled list with a sore right elbow, retroactive to yesterday. Carlos Mendoza came off the DL to take his spot on the roster.

Wright is Scranton-bound

According to one of the Yankees' beat writers, Chase Wright will be promoted to Triple-A Scranton. With Phil Hughes going on the DL and a doubleheader today at Texas, the Yankees need starters for Sunday and Monday, so they're calling up Darrell Rasner and Matt DeSalvo.

While he hasn't gone deep into games, DeSalvo has put up great numbers at Triple-A so far: 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA in five starts. During spring training, I wrote about DeSalvo's hellish 2006 season, which began with him nearly making the major leagues out of spring training and ended with him losing his spot on the Yankees' 40-man roster. I'm happy to see that he got himself straightened out.

As for Wright, he was scheduled to start for the Thunder tomorrow night at New Britain. My guess is that Jeff Marquez will now make that start (on normal rest), someone will get called up from High-A Tampa to fill in the gap. If it's Ian Kennedy, the Yankees' top 2006 draft pick, he last pitched yesterday, so he won't be able to go again until Monday.

UPDATE: Scott Patterson will make another spot start (his second of the season) tonight at New Britain, with Marquez staying on his previously scheduled day on Saturday. My guess is Kennedy gets promoted, with the transaction, as per the Yankees' habit post-Masse, not being completed until the last moment.