07/14/2003 11:40 AM ET
Clemens added to All-Star team
Rosters: AL | NL
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The Rocket will be taking off for Chicago after all.
Roger Clemens was added to the American League All-Star team by Major League Baseball on Monday, giving the future Hall of Famer one last hurrah in the Midsummer Classic, to be played Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field.
He is replacing Oakland left-hander Barry Zito, who would not have been available to pitch Tuesday after hurling eight shutout innings Sunday at Baltimore.
"He's had an amazing career, and he deserves to be here," said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who has caught more Clemens victories than any backstop in history. "He's one of those guys that needs to be here. He understands and respects the game, and the game owes it to him to have him here."
This is the ninth All-Star selection for Clemens, who turns 41 on Aug. 4, and his second as a member of the New York Yankees. Clemens has represented the Boston Red Sox five times and the Toronto Blue Jays twice.
"I'm excited about that. I remember playing in 2001, when Cal Ripken played in his last game. It was great to be a part of that," said Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi. "The last of the living legends are ridng off into the sunset."
The Rocket's last All-Star appearance came in 2001, when he started for the American League. Clemens went 20-3 that season, capturing an unprecedented sixth Cy Young Award.
Clemens, who is planning to retire at the end of the season, has pitched in all but one of his eight previous Midsummer Classics, going 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA. Clemens has started twice, winning his debut in Houston in 1986 with three perfect innings, and tossing two perfect innings in Seattle in 2001. In that start, Clemens became the second-oldest All-Star starter at 39, behind only Warren Spahn, who was 40.
"I think it's great," said Padres outfielder Rondell White, who was Clemens' teammate last season in New York. "He's a perennial All-Star and a really great guy. He's unbelievable. I'm happy I had a chance to play with him."
Since the teams were announced last week, there has been a lot of sentiment for Clemens to make the All-Star team. Neither he nor any of his fellow New York pitchers were originally named to the AL squad.
This season has been a memorable one for Clemens, who is 8-6 with a 3.68 ERA. On June 13, Clemens defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-2, to win the 300th game of his career. In the second inning of that game, Clemens struck out Edgar Renteria for his 4,000th career strikeout. Only Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Steve Carlton (4,136) have more Ks than Clemens.
"I'm glad to see it. Not as a hitter, but as a baseball fan," said Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds. "Hopefully he'll get to pitch in the game and get a great ovation. He's had a tremendous career."
"Our teams competed against him so many times, and it was never fun," said Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa. "It wasn't fun to be a part of his 300th win, but I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. Of all the things that were said about who should or shouldn't be here, I thought the number one problem -- even including Dontrelle Willis -- was that Roger Clemens wasn't a part of it. I'm really excited he'll be here."
Willis, who himself was a late addition to the National League team, was excited to hear that Clemens would be part of this year's Midsummer Classic.
"I think it's good for him and great for baseball," Willis said. "He's had a lot of success for a long time, which is hard to do in this game. Hopefully I'll get a chance to just meet him and say hello."
In 10 career All-Star innings over seven games, Clemens has allowed three runs on six hits and one walk, striking out five batters.
Among active pitchers, Clemens ranks first in wins, strikeouts (4,037), innings pitched (4,191 2/3), complete games (116) and shutouts (45). With 301 career victories, Clemens ranks 19th all-time, having passed Hall-of-Famers Lefty Grove and Early Wynn.
"It's nice for him," said Cardinals pitcher Woody Williams, who works out with Clemens in the offseason. "His career may never be matched, so this is something he deserves."
"He's had a great career, 300 wins, 4,000 strikeouts," said Alfonso Soriano. "For him to be at the All-Star Game for the last time, it will be special for him."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.