<
>

Clemens throws again, says he's ready to start Sunday

TORONTO -- Roger Clemens threw 40 pitches in a bullpen
session before New York's game against Toronto on Thursday and said
he has "no doubt" he'll be able to pitch at Boston on Sunday
night.

Clemens, 6-6 with a 4.45 ERA this season, left a Sept. 3 start
against Seattle after four innings because of elbow discomfort
caused by a change in his mechanics, the result of a blister on his
foot. He returned home to Houston and had two cortisone shots in
his elbow on Sept. 5. Tests also revealed ligament damage to the
elbow.

The 45-year-old Clemens said Thursday's 40-pitch session was
crisper than the one he had Tuesday, when he threw at about 80
percent.

"It's not a game situation type of scenario, but it was a more
violent pen than I would normally throw," Clemens said. "I'm
pleased with it. My foot is holding up fine. For me, that's where
it starts and ends as far as getting over my arm issues."

Clemens, who has never had elbow problems before, said he's
eager to see how he responds to being in a game again.

"I'll push by body until it pulls back a little bit," he said.
"All I can do is hope and trust that the doctor got the right spot
and listen to, not only guys here, but other guys that have had
elbow issues and cortisone shots."

Yankees manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Ron Guidry, who
watched Clemens throw, were pleased with what they saw.

"He seemed fine," Torre said. "We'll wait, obviously, until
tomorrow and see how he comes in. It looks like he'll be all
right."

Clemens, who threw while at home in Texas before rejoining the
Yankees in Toronto, said he's looking forward to returning to
Fenway Park, his home as a Red Sox from his rookie year in 1984
until he left Boston following the 1996 season.

"I enjoy playing there," Clemens said. "I don't know how long
it's been but I look forward to it. Boston is a team we're going to
see more than these three games. When you have two teams that are
very good at what they do and fighting for the same thing, it
always makes for some excitement."

Mike Mussina started in Clemens' place against Toronto on
Wednesday, his first start since Aug. 27, and beat Toronto with 5
2/3 shutout innings. It was his first win since Aug. 11 at
Cleveland.

Rookie Phil Hughes, who beat Toronto Tuesday, is expected to
pitch Sunday if Clemens can't go.