10/06/2004 4:46 PM ET
Notes: Clemens option for Game 4
A homecoming for Everett; Astros to face old friend
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
|Phil Garner (left) may go to Roger Clemens in Game 4 if the Astros are in a must-win situation. (Chris O'Meara/AP)
ATLANTA -- Houston Astros manager Phil Garner has not decided who will follow Game 3 starter Brandon Backe in the rotation, but he hasn't eliminated Roger Clemens as an option to return to the mound Sunday on three days' rest.
The determining factor will be how the Astros fare in Games 1, 2 and 3. If they are behind in the series, Garner may be inclined to use Clemens on short rest, a situation The Rocket has not had a great deal of success with in the past.
But similar to Sunday, when Clemens was slated to pitch on short rest before he came down with a stomach virus, Garner is likely to turn to the right-hander in a dire situation, such as possible elimination.
"I don't think the numbers suggest that bringing pitchers back on short time works," Garner said. "On Sunday, the thought process is, I just couldn't live with myself thinking that we perhaps lost the [Wild Card], and I had Roger Clemens on the bench. Given all the variables that you put together, I'd still rather have Roger go out there on short time."
Pete Munro is an option to start Game 4 and may get the nod if the Astros are ahead in the series. For now, he is available in the bullpen Wednesday and Thursday.
Join the club: Adam Everett joined the Astros in Atlanta prior to Wednesday's Division Series opener, but in a way, he was coming home.
Everett grew up 20 miles north of Atlanta in Kennesaw, Ga. Consequently, his parents, in-laws and wife, Jennifer, needed only a couple of hours notice to get to Turner Field in time for Game 1.
Everett, who was planning to spend the week in the Instructional League and join the Astros in the NLCS next week, if necessary, instead was given clearance to play in the Division Series.
"If the wrist is feeling good, then it's feeling good," Everett said. "You're not going to see the same type of pitching in the Instructional League as you are up here at this level. It doesn't matter if you're in the playoffs or not. The biggest thing is, I'm feeling good and ready to go."
Everett, who hasn't seen Major League pitching since he broke he wrist seven weeks ago, will likely be limited to pinch-running and defense, at least for the first round.
"It'll take a little time on Adam's part," Garner said. "He's not ready to start. I wouldn't start him, I wouldn't think it's right. The ideal situation is to get a 10-run lead, get him out there for a couple innings so he can get an at-bat. That would be the goal."
Friends and foes: Atlanta left-hander Mike Hampton never forgot who was counting on him -- other than his own Braves teammates -- when he faced the Cubs during the final weekend of the regular season.
Hampton knew that by beating the Cubs, it would move the Astros one step closer to winning the Wild Card. And he came through for his former teammates, holding the Cubs to one run over six innings. He even knocked a two-run homer in a game the Braves won, 5-4.
"I went into that start against the Cubs knowing that if we do our job there, if we win, it's going to help [the Astros] out
tremendously," said Hampton, who pitched for the Astros from 1994-99.
Of course, when he faces his buddies Thursday in Game 2 of the Division Series, all bets are off.
"They're good friends of mine," Hampton said. "But for me, the friendship will end at 4:09 [p.m.] tomorrow, between the white lines, which will be back to where we started."
Proud papa: Amid the clubhouse celebration on Sunday, when the Astros clinched the Wild Card, was assistant general manager Tim Purpura, who was especially happy for the many former Houston prospects who contributed to the late-season comeback.
Purpura, in his 11th year with the Astros and seventh as the club's farm director, beamed as he watched former farmhands such as Raul Chavez, Brad Lidge, Mike Gallo and Chad Qualls enjoy their first Major League taste of champagne in a wild celebration.
But one of the best parts of the day, Purpura relayed, was a conversation he had with John Buck, who called him that night to congratulate the team on making the playoffs.
Buck was the catching prospect who was part of the three-team trade that brought Carlos Beltran to Houston. Octavio Dotel was dealt to Oakland and Buck went to Kansas City, where he became the Royals' starting catcher.
"There's a guy we've known since he was 17 years old, calling to congratulate us," Purpura said. "I told him, 'If it wasn't for John Buck, we wouldn't have Carlos Beltran.' His point was, 'I'm glad you guys are there. I wish I could be with you, but I know that this is a great place for me and for my career.'"
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.