Rocket keeps rolling in Tampa

Rocket keeps rolling in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. -- Roger Clemens spent Wednesday morning at the Yankees' player development complex in Tampa soft-tossing and continuing his mentoring work with several Yankees pitching prospects.

Clemens is scheduled to start for the Class A Tampa Yankees at 7 p.m. ET on Friday at Legends Field. That game can be seen live on MiLB.TV.

After Wednesday's approximately hour-long session, Clemens left the complex without responding to the media but his workout was an apparent sign that the 44-year-old right-hander came away from Tuesday's bullpen session healthy.

In that session, the Rocket tossed a total of 71 pitches followed by infield work, in which he worked on taking grounders and covering first base. After the workout, he discussed the importance of gauging his "soreness level" this week in determining how soon he will return to the Major League club. Clemens emphasized that his 2006 return with the Astros was helped in part by having pitched earlier in the year in the World Baseball Classic.

"Another important thing for me [on Wednesday] is more of a muscle-memory sort of thing," Clemens said after Tuesday's bullpen session. "Let's get one inning under my belt first, then I'll worry about two, three, four and about the extent of my pitch count. Once I get in a game on Friday, it'll be a good tell-tale sign of how I feel Saturday. I'd be real surprised, arm strength-wise, that I'm not close. But there's some soreness that I need to get in and out of my body from not pitching in games."

Clemens began his Wednesday workout with warmups and then soft-tossed in what he consistently describes as his "Williamsport workout," in reference to the Little League pitching distance of 46 feet. The Rocket then spent the rest of his morning in the bullpen covering the basics of pitching, something that he's done each day he's been in Florida since arriving on Monday.

Clemens, who will have a short workout on Thursday, said on Tuesday that he hopes to throw between 45-60 pitches in his start on Friday, followed by more pitches in the bullpen for a total of 90 pitches.

He also expressed the distinct possibility of a May 28 return with the Yankees against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

"If I come out of the first two [Minor League starts] decent, they'll pull me aside and I'm sure they'll talk about that," said Clemens, who made three Minor League starts last year before his comeback with the Astros. "Nothing's out of the question."

Following his start in Tampa, Clemens is expected to make his next start with Double-A affiliate Trenton next Wednesday.

Chris Girandola is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.