NEW YORK - Roger Clemens was removed from the New York Yankees’ playoff roster before they were eliminated by Cleveland on Monday night.
The Yankees used a new rule to replace Clemens with left-handed reliever Ron Villone, who recorded one out in New York’s 6-4 loss to the Indians in Game 4 of the division series.
The move would have shelved Clemens at least until the World Series but it was a moot point when the Indians ended the Yankees’ season.
Clemens re-injured a hamstring Sunday and left in the third inning of New York’s 8-4 win in Game 3. He met with manager Joe Torre and general manager Brian Cashman after the game.
“Normally, he’d fight,” Cashman said. “But he didn’t fight this one. He knows his body and he knows that he did enough damage in there that he wouldn’t be ready.”
New York petitioned Major League Baseball for the roster switch Monday morning and it was granted hours later. Clemens declined comment through team spokesman Jason Zillo before the start of Game 4.
“He had some time trying to deal with his hamstring, and he had a couple of different instances last night in the first couple of innings that he felt it,” Torre said.
Villone said Torre and pitching coach Ron Guidry gave him the news after he arrived at Yankee Stadium on Monday. New York did not have a lefty in the bullpen until it added Villone to its playoff roster.
“If I can do anything to help us, that’s what I’m here for,” Villone said before the game.
Clemens’ left hamstring started bothering him again when he broke for Kenny Lofton’s bunt attempt in the second inning. He told a Yankees trainer about the problem after the inning.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner walked Travis Hafner leading off the third and struck out Victor Martinez before he was replaced by Phil Hughes. Clemens got an encouraging pat on the chest from Alex Rodriguez before trudging toward the dugout.
New York’s four-game loss to Cleveland left Clemens’ future in doubt.
In early May, the 45-year-old Clemens put off retirement with a few dramatic words from owner George Steinbrenner’s box at Yankee Stadium. He signed a contract that paid him $17.4 million but was bothered by injuries down the stretch.
The right-hander’s outing against Cleveland was his first since Sept. 16 and second since Sept. 3 because of a cranky elbow and sore left hamstring.
Clemens worked out in Tampa, Fla., and pronounced himself fit just a few days ago. But he never looked comfortable Sunday and was forced to leave early, just like his previous postseason appearance.
Pitching for his hometown Houston Astros, Clemens hobbled off the field after two innings in Game 1 of the 2005 World Series against the Chicago White Sox with a strained left hamstring, the same injury that shelved him against the Indians.
After New York’s Game 3 win, Clemens insisted he couldn’t even think about whether his storied career is over.
“I don’t know,” was all he would say on the matter, limping slightly as he walked out of the stadium with his sons.
Headed to the Hall of Fame, Clemens has 354 wins and two World Series titles. He ranks second on the career strikeout list with 4,672.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Clemens went 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA for New York this season, striking out 68 in 99 innings.
Villone got Hafner to fly out to left to end the sixth. The Indians slugger dropped to 0-for-6 with a double play in his career against Villone.
Cleveland manager Eric Wedge was asked if it was unfair that the Yankees were allowed to replenish their bullpen.
“That’s the rule, you know, and they’re taking advantage of it,” he said. “But I’m sure we would probably do the same thing if we were in that situation.”
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