Clemens hopes to be healthy to start Game 5 for Astros

Monday, October 24, 2005

CHICAGO -- A day after Roger Clemens hobbled off the field, the Houston Astros could not answer the big question: Will Clemens be able to pitch again in the World Series?

"When it comes to Roger Clemens, I have to be optimistic," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said Sunday.

Clemens was forced out of Game 1 after only two innings, walking gingerly because of a recurring strained left hamstring. The Astros lost the opener 5-3.

Clemens was scheduled to be at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday for treatment. He wasn't available for comment.

"I anticipate him being very sore," manager Phil Garner said. "By no stretch of the imagination am I counting him out now."

The Astros listed the 43-year-old Clemens -- the scheduled starter for Game 5 on Thursday night in Houston -- as day-to-day. Purpura said there wouldn't be a decision on his status until closer to gametime.

If the seven-time Cy Young winner isn't able to pitch Game 5, rookies Wandy Rodriguez and Ezequiel Astacio are the top options to take his place. Rodriguez relieved Clemens on Saturday night, and was the loser after allowing a run and four hits over 3 1/3 innings.

Astros pitching coach Jim Hickey said he thought Clemens tweaked himself while making a break to cover first base in the second inning. Clemens, who led the majors with a 1.87 ERA this season, gave up three runs.

"I had a problem in the second inning, and fought my way through that inning," Clemens said after the game. "The fluid already started to build up in my leg."

Teammate Jeff Bagwell expects to see Clemens back on the mound.

"He's just a special individual. Sometimes your will can go a lot farther than your body," Bagwell said. "The legend grows every day for him. I just think this could be another special time."

Ratings drop

Television viewership for the World Series opener dropped substantially.

The 5-3 victory by the Chicago White Sox over the Houston Astros on Saturday night on Fox got a 9.5 fast national rating and 17 share, Nielsen Media Research said Sunday.

That rating declined 31 percent from Boston's victory over St. Louis in the 2004 opener, which got a 13.7/25. Still, Fox got its highest Saturday night rating in nine months since last season's NFL playoffs.

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