Notes: Garner irked by interpretation
Astros manager explains his true feelings about Clemens
CINCINNATI -- On Tuesday, manager Phil Garner conducted an eight-minute interview with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike Show, but it was a 30-second sound bite from the exchange that has attracted attention -- a little too much attention, in Garner's estimation.
The subject, of course, was Roger Clemens, who two days earlier announced he had signed with the Yankees. Garner spent much of the interview speaking glowingly of Clemens, but when his comments were reprinted in a local report, some of the more complimentary items weren't included. Garner took exception to that.
"The whole spirit of what I was trying to say was that I did not think Rocket's 'freedom clause' was an issue with our ballclub," Garner said. "If you took the other things that I was saying about Rocket -- you guys know how I feel about Rocket. I have no bones to pick about anything about Rocket. I enjoy Rocket."
An opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle, criticizing Clemens for being away from the team too much when he wasn't pitching, reiterated Garner's conversation with Mike and Mike:
"What sort of happened was we'd turn on the TV, and he's playing in a golf tournament in Hollywood, so it evolved to be more than just seeing family," Garner said on ESPN Radio. "That might have been a little bit of an issue. But it did not hurt our ballclub."
Garner's next comment was not included in the opinion piece: "Let's be honest, the period we had Rocket in Houston, he elevated our baseball. I think our players appreciated what he did. Everybody was OK with it. I don't think it was an issue. I do think, however, when you're going to the Yankees, it's a potential issue, because everybody's a superstar on that team."
Garner was displeased with what he perceived as the author's decision to focus on the negative, which in his estimation, took the comments out of context.
"You've heard me say on numerous occasions the man did a lot for our ballclub, and I don't appreciate [the author] trying to take that to make it fit what he's trying to say," Garner said. "Say what you want to say, but don't throw me under the bus doing it."
Clemens' freedom clause -- now renamed "the family plan" -- has created quite a stir in New York and around the baseball community. Clemens appears to have the same come-and-go-as-you-please arrangement as he did with the Astros, but unlike the last three years, it's causing somewhat of an uproar. Garner doesn't understand why it's such an issue.
"We were perfectly willing to do that to get the man to pitch for us," Garner said. "It makes good sense. There are certain rare individuals that you do that with over time. Nolan Ryan had the same thing with Texas.
"You can't do it with many. It's got to be few and far between, in my opinion, but there are some people you can do that with. It didn't hurt his performance. He pitched as good as a man can pitch during his time here."
Hiya, Rocket: With the Astros' Class A affiliate just down the road from Cincinnati, Houston general manager Tim Purpura and assistant general manager Ricky Bennett have been able to watch both the Astros and the Lexington Legends this week. Lexington is a little more than an hour away from Cincinnati.
As has been widely reported, Clemens also is in Lexington, where he's working out at the University of Kentucky. He's also there to be with his son, Koby, a third baseman in the Astros' farm system.
Purpura and Clemens bumped into each other Wednesday morning at the Legends game and spoke for about five minutes.
"It was a good conversation," Purpura said. "To me, he was very complimentary. He was asking about a lot of the kids, how different guys are doing, how [the Astros] did last night, who's pitching tonight."
Purpura pushed aside any notions that the Astros are harboring resentment toward Clemens for signing with the Yankees.
"I said it a lot before this all came down, but my belief has always been no matter what happens, he's had an impact on the organization," Purpura said. "When he's done playing, whenever that is, he's going to have an impact on the organization [while fulfilling his 10-year personal services contract]. I don't see any animosity on our side or his side."
White ready: Right-hander Rick White rejoined the Astros on Wednesday after a two-game rehab stint with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.
White, who was sidelined with an abdominal strain on his left side, threw three innings over two games and declared himself completely healthy and ready to go.
"Whenever they tell me I'm ready, I'm ready," White said.
White probably will have to wait another day or two before he's activated from the disabled list. Garner and Purpura still are discussing whether they want to use an 11- or 12-man pitching staff, and after they make that decision, they have to decide who they'll send out in order to make room for White.
"We won't do [any roster move] today," Purpura said prior to Wednesday's game. "We're still not there yet. It's a difficult decision to make."
Coming up: The Astros and Reds will wrap up their four-game set Thursday afternoon, beginning at 11:35 a.m. CT. Right-hander Matt Albers (1-1, 3.32 ERA) will face Cincinnati righty Aaron Harang (4-1, 4.78 ERA).
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.