Notes: No appeal for Clemens
Veteran immediately starts five-game ban for hitting Rios
CLEVELAND -- Manager Joe Torre compared Roger Clemens' five-game suspension to "trying to play on a rainy day."
"You just let it go," Torre said.
So on Friday, the Yankees offered the surprising announcement that Clemens has declined to appeal his suspension and would immediately begin serving his time.
Many figured Clemens would appeal the verdict and make his scheduled Monday start. If he did this and began serving his suspension Tuesday, fewer days would have passed between Clemens' starts. As it stands now, Clemens will be eligible to return Wednesday, eight days after his last start.
This, however, was apparently not a concern.
"There is no timing," said Torre, who was hit with a one-game suspension and planned to watch Friday's game from one of the park's luxury suites. "The fact is that he wasn't trying to camouflage it and say, 'I didn't mean it.' He went about his business."
Clemens was suspended and fined $1,500 by Major League Baseball on Thursday for hitting Toronto's Alex Rios during Tuesday's game. The seventh-inning pitch came after Alex Rodriguez had been hit earlier in the game and both benches had already cleared twice.
Torre had no complaints about the suspension, though he felt Blue Jays starter Josh Towers also should have been suspended for nailing Rodriguez and initiating the night's commotion.
As for decisions in Torre's hands, he now must find a starter for Tuesday. Thursday's off-day allowed New York to push Chien-Ming Wang, on normal rest, into Clemens' scheduled Monday slot.
Tuesday's start will either go to reliever Jeff Karstens, who started a pair of games earlier this season, or a pitcher from Triple-A Scranton. One possible option is rapidly rising 22-year-old Ian Kennedy. In three starts at Scranton, Kennedy has allowed just two runs while striking out 19 over 17 innings.
When Clemens will re-join the rotation remains a mystery. He is eligible to return Wednesday, but Torre would not say if the right-hander would immediately reenter the fray.
Much ado about nothing? Reading Chipper Jones' recent comments, Alex Rodriguez had one question.
What's the big deal?
"I don't really think Chipper said anything out of line," Rodriguez said. "That's the way it is in the era we live in. With great accomplishments, there's going to be questions."
Jones told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Rodriguez will probably face questions about suspected steroid use as he climbs higher and higher up the all-time home run ladder.
"I think it will follow him," Jones told the AP. "If I had to pose a guess on A-Rod, I would say no. But I don't know. He's going to have to answer the questions. And that goes for everybody that approaches the number. It's just so farfetched, the numbers that those guys are putting up. A lot of it comes from the era that they're playing in."
Pretty innocent, right? Torre certainly thought so.
At least once he got past the tabloid headlines, one of which screamed, "Brave: A-Rod Faces Serious Steroid Questions," and read Jones' comments.
"I said, 'Wait a minute, this is nothing like the headline said,'" Torre said. "It didn't make any sense. All he said was that when [Rodriguez] gets [near the all-time home run record], I'm sure there will be people asking him some questions.
"It's probably true. It doesn't mean that I question Alex. It just means that that's where we are until we gain the trust back."
It was unclear whether Rodriguez has since talked with Jones, who he's known since high school and considers a friend. A brief session with reporters was cut short -- mid-sentence -- when Rodriguez was called to a meeting.
A-Rod fine: Rodriguez, as expected, returned to the lineup Friday night.
The Yankees' most potent hitter missed just his second game of the season Wednesday after being nailed in the right calf by Towers on Tuesday.
Rodriguez said the calf muscle is still sore but had progressed enough after a couple days of rest.
"I should be all right," Rodriguez said.
That fast became evident. Rodriguez hit his 37th home run of the season two pitches into his first at-bat Friday.
Posada out: An aching neck kept Jorge Posada out of Friday's lineup and Torre said the catcher is day to day.
"His neck has been sore for about three days," Torre said. "It was worse today."
Yanks extras: Every Indians player wore a No. 14 jersey Friday night in honor of Larry Doby, the man who broke the American League color barrier 60 years ago. "He sort of got lost in the Jackie Robinson [shuffle]," Torre said. "It's nice that people are really going to find out a little more about him." ... Torre may not have been too troubled by his suspension, but he was wondering why a couple of his coaches got pulled into the mix. First-base coach Tony Pena and third-base coach Larry Bowa were each fined because of their roles in Tuesday's incident. "I was a little surprised about the coaches getting banged. That was a little unnecessary." ... Jacobs Field has sold out for the entire weekend set. Once a top draw, the Indians had only two full houses to date this year.
On deck: The Yankees continue their weekend set with Cleveland on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET at Jacobs Field. Mike Mussina (7-7, 4.66 ERA) will be opposed by Tribe right-hander Paul Byrd (10-4, 4.13 ERA).
David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.