The debut season of the Atlantic League's lone team (so far) in the southwest, Sugar Land, TX, very likely is going to end up with the Skeeters on the outside during the playoffs, but that does not mean Gary Gaetti's team will merely be playing out the string in the final five weeks of the season.
They made their biggest splash to date on Monday when news broke that seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens is ending nearly five years on the sidelines to join the star-studded Skeeters rotation that also includes former major leaguers Scott Kazmir, Tim Redding and outfielder-turned-pitcher Jason Lane.
Clemens will be available to answer questions at a media conference at Constellation Field at 11 a.m. CDT Tuesday, the Skeeters said on their website, and will be in uniform Friday and start Saturday.
"He had great command of all his pitches (during a workout Monday), and we couldn't be more excited about this signing," said special team advisor and longtime major league executive Tal Smith, the team reported on www.sugarlandskeeters.com.
Clemens reached 87 miles per hour on the radar gun Monday, Mark Berman of Fox26
in Houston reported.
"It is at this point a fun, local one time kind of thing," Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, told USA Today
. "If he does well, he will probably make at least one more home start."
Sugar Land is averaging an Independent Baseball-high 6,649 fans per game this season, with the season total at 359,027. The Skeeters say limited tickets are available for Saturday's game against the Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish.
Clemens, 50, last pitched for the New York Yankees in 2007. He was acquitted on all charges this summer that he obstructed justice and lied to Congress. Clemens was subject to a federal investigation after telling Congress he never used steroids or human growth hormone.
Sugar Land has a 47-60 record for the 140-game season, and currently is five and a half games out of the second half Freedom Division lead and nine games out of a possible wild card playoff berth.
HOORELBEKE NEW INDEPENDENT HOME RUN KING
It took a move such as the signing of Roger Clemens to take the spotlight away from first baseman Jesse Hoorelbeke, who became Independent Baseball's all-time home run king with his 164th and 165th round-trippers during the weekend.
Hoorelbeke broke the mark held by outfielder Glenn Murray, who hit 163 homers between 1999 and 2006 with Nashua, NH when that city was in the Atlantic and Can-Am Leagues.
We will flush out more details for this week's Independent Baseball Insider
, which reaches subscribers Thursday evening.
PRIOR, PATTERSON RELEASED
Former major league standout Mark Prior, who once played Independent Baseball in the Golden League (Orange County, Fullerton, CA) in his attempt to get back to the majors, has been released by Boston's Triple-A farm club in Pawtucket, RI. While Prior's work at Pawtucket had been encouraging in June and much of July, his control weakened and he had a 6.75 ERA for 6.2 innings this month. The onetime Chicago Cubs star was 1-0 with a 3.96 ERA in 19 relief appearances with the Pawsox.
Meanwhile, another right-hander, Scott Patterson, was released out of Buffalo, NY only weeks after the New York Mets signed him. Patterson, who pitched briefly in the majors, started his professional career in the Indy ranks with the Gateway Grizzlies at Sauget, IL (Frontier League) and started relieving during stints with Lancaster, PA in the Atlantic League.
One prediction from this corner came true when outfielder Justin Christian re-joined the San Francisco Giants after the 50-game suspension of Melky Cabrera. Christian is in his second stint of the season with playoff-contending San Francisco. He also started his pro career in the Frontier League (River City, O'Fallon, MO) and later worked in the Atlantic League for Southern Maryland (Waldorf). Christian went 0-for-7 in three weekend games against San Diego.
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