Clemens arrives, meets the press


The red carpet was waiting. So were his teammates and Boston Red Sox officials.

Drum roll, please.

And now, arriving at spring training . . . Roger Clemens!

"The reason I was at home for two weeks . . . doing what I needed to get ready to pitch down here, is so I didn't have to do what I'm doing with you all right now," he said to the awaiting Boston reporters, with whom he's feuded on and off during the past few years.

Teammates had decorated the clubhouse with a welcome home balloon, a missing persons milk carton with Clemens as the subject and a Where's Waldo search book. A carpet of red fabric lined the way to his stall, too.

"I think it's funny," Clemens said.

* TIGERS: The team had its first injury of spring training when left-handed pitcher Scott Aldred twisted his right ankle during a workout.

The injury is not expected to hinder Aldred in the long run, but may force him to miss Detroit's exhibition season opener Friday in Sarasota against the Chicago White Sox.

* ASTROS: The days of sitting around in the clubhouse and downing a few cold beers after games are gone.

Houston general manager Bill Wood said that all Astros personnel will be prohibited from drinking alcoholic beverages in clubhouses and on chartered team flights this season.

"This is probably long overdue," Wood said. "In effect, the club was endorsing the use of alcohol on the premises. We decided it was time to stop that. Other sports don't allow it. Other businesses don't allow alcohol on the premises. Society's attitude toward alcohol has changed, and so should ours."

* METS: Dwight Gooden threw batting practice for the first time, and his velocity was impressive.

"Let's just say that even if he wasn't coming off surgery, I still would be smiling," New York Mets pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. "Doc threw outstanding and I was primarily impressed with the looseness of his arm. He had surprisingly good pop on his pitches for someone not throwing any harder than what he was."

The former Cy Young Award winner is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder last September to repair a partially torn rotator cuff.

* PHILLIES: Pitcher Pat Combs had a narrow escape on a bicycle during the weekend, and general manager Lee Thomas said he planned to have a talk with all of the bike riders on the team.

"I don't think we'll tell them they can't, but maybe we can get them to be more careful," Thomas said.

Combs said he figured a bike trip from his home on Saturday to the Phillies camp was a good way to get some extra exercise. But as he was rounding a curve, a van suddenly appeared in his path.

"It was pretty scary. I couldn't believe he missed me. I just kind of swerved out of the way," Combs said.

The incident reminded some of the 1979 bicycle accident that broke Larry Christenson's arm. Combs said he got his exercise on the stationary bike on Sunday.

* YANKEES: Right-hander Pascual Perez expressed optimism that he will be ready for the start of the season after throwing off a mound for the first time.

"It feels good," said Perez, who lost most of the past two seasons to a rotator cuff injury. "I still need more time, but there's a long way to go."

* REDS: Cincinnati is having tests done on catcher Bob Geren to determine the cause of pain in his neck, right shoulder and upper back.

Dr. Richard Jolson, the Reds' team doctor, ordered a bone scan to find out if Geren has a pinched nerve or a bone fracture. Geren was sent for the test yesterday.

* ATHLETICS: Manager Tony La Russa is happy to have his team together at last.

Outfielders Jose Canseco and Rickey Henderson finally reported to the A's Scottsdale Community College training camp. The club had asked them to report last Wednesday.

"I was just looking forward to the day when we had the full squad here," said La Russa, who now has 49 players in camp. "I'm going to try to see what kind of shape they're in.

* CUBS: Mike Morgan, wearing the team's blue uniform, said he never was accepted as one of the Dodgers or manager Tom Lasorda's "boys" and he questioned the sincerity of the bleeding-blue routine.

"He's obviously a great motivator, but there's got to be a reason people want to leave there, even though it's a great place to play baseball," Morgan said of Lasorda and Los Angeles.

"There's got to be a reason young players demand to be traded and guys who signed long-term deals there, thinking it would be the greatest place to play, demand to be traded just a year later. Something's missing."

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