Pavano not in awe of Game 4 start
MIAMI -- In case there was any doubt, Roger Clemens said he isn't kidding.
When the Yankees right-hander takes the field on Wednesday night at Pro Player Stadium, the start against the Florida Marlins in Game 4 of the World Series will be the last of his career.
"I'm dead serious on what I'm doing," said Clemens, who has won 310 games in his nearly 20-year career, the last five with the Yankees. "I know that tomorrow will be my last start in the Major Leagues. It started a long time ago here in Florida. I made my first professional start in the minor leagues in this state. And this will be my last start.
"I'll be happy, but yet I'll be sad. I'm just grateful for this opportunity to go out there again on the grandest stage."
The start will be his 26th in the playoffs, seventh in the World Series and 632nd of his career. It will also be his fourth at Pro Player Stadium and he'll be going against Florida right-hander Carl Pavano.
In case there was any question that Clemens could come back and start a possible Game 7 at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, manager Joe Torre rejected that notion.
"No, no. I mentioned that if there's a seventh game, I'm sure Roger will be out in the bullpen with everybody else," Torre said. "Everybody is available in Game 7 of the World Series because there's certainly nothing going on the next day or the next week."
Clemens has made three starts this postseason, defeating the Twins in the American League Division Series and the Red Sox in the AL Championship Series. He was knocked out by the Red Sox last Thursday night in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium with Boston leading, 4-0, in a game the Yankees came back and won, 6-5, in 11 innings.
"I think there was so much emotion for Roger in that last start that he really had trouble locking in," Torre said.
Clemens closed out the 1999 World Series, his first with the Yankees, by defeating the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 at New York, and earned his second ring when the Yankees beat the Mets in five games a year later. He's 3-0 in his six previous World Series starts for New York and Boston with a 1.56 ERA and 43 strikeouts.
Clemens will find himself in the strange and uncomfortable position of having to hit in the game because the designated hitter is not utilized in National League parks.
"I don't like hitting because I'm not good at it. That's the bottom line," he said. "I don't get to practice enough. It's not something we do. If I'm able to get a bunt down to help my team move a guy over or if I happen to run into one of these pitches and get a base hit, that's fine. You don't want to be an easy at-bat for the other (pitcher). I'll just try and get my bat on the ball."
Clemens said he'd also try and keep his emotions in check. He'll push the fact that it is his last start to the back of his mind. Adrenalin will take over and he'll focus on the job at hand.
"I'm a creature of habit. I won't change anything I do pregame or anything like that," he said. "Once I get out there, I don't think it's going to enter my mind. The people who are closest to me, who've been following me all these years, they'll be sitting on that more than I will. Once I hit the mound I'm not going to have to look any further than the other dugout to know what I'm up against and what I have to do."
That first professional start came in 1983 at Winter Haven, Fla., and he made his first Major League start a year later for the Red Sox in Cleveland. Along the way he won the AL's Cy Young Award six times and struck out 4,099 batters.
This season, he won his 300th game and recorded his 4,000th strikeout on the same night at Yankee Stadium -- June 13 in a 5-2 win over the Cardinals.
He says there's nothing more to accomplish, no more baseball mountains left to climb. That's why his Game 4 start will be his last.
"I've been very blessed in all these situations," said Clemens, who turned 41-years-old this past summer. "My body's held up great. The guys in the clubhouse have really made me look good over the years. They've made me shine.
"It would be nice to cap it off with another ring because that's what still drives me at this point. There are guys in there who don't have the opportunity to look down on their hand and see a world championship ring. That's what we're playing for at this point."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.