NEW YORK - It took the Yankees only four brief paragraphs to bring to an end the latest, and perhaps final chapter, of Roger Clemens' baseball career.
The 45-year-old future Hall of Famer, betrayed by Father Time and a troublesome, lingering hamstring injury, was removed from Game 3 of the American League Division Series after allowing Cleveland three runs on 2 1/3 tortured innings Sunday. Today, Clemens was removed, again, this time from the team's postseason roster, replaced by 37-year-old reliever Ron Villone.
Both moves, necessitated by Clemens' concession that he was not physically capable of performing.
The move seemed to signal the beginning of the end, if not the end itself for Clemens, a stark realization when it comes to an iron man who seemed intent on pitching forever in order to build onto the already astounding totals of 354 big-league victories and 4,672 strikeouts.
Should the Yankees advance past the Cleveland Indians and on to the American League Championship Series, neither new major league rules nor the injury will permit Clemens to go with them, manager Joe Torre said.
And if the team advances, further still, to the World Series? Well, the rules would allow for Clemens' reinstatement, but ...
"We don't know if he'll be alright," said Torre. "We hope we have an opportunity to find out. At least that keeps him from having to make a decision about the next round."
Thing is, Torre didn't sound any more hopeful about the Series than he appeared convinced that Clemens would ever pitch, again, period.
"I don't want to think that way," the manager said. "Obviously we'll take whatever it is when we get there. And Roger will certainly be honest with us. He's always been that."