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Friday, August 10, 2007
Clemens, Torre to start serving suspensions Friday night

Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Roger Clemens would rather sit than fight this time.

Clemens declined to appeal the five-game suspension he received for plunking Toronto's Alex Rios with a pitch earlier this week, and began serving the penalty when the New York Yankees opened a three-game series against the Indians on Friday night.

The suspension and a $1,500 fine were imposed Thursday by Major League Baseball vice president Bob Watson after Clemens drilled Rios in the middle of the back on Tuesday during a testy three-game set with the Blue Jays.

Some umpires don't have a feel for the game. It's often better to use common sense instead of the black and white letter of the law.

-- Joe Torre

Yankees manager Joe Torre, who is also serving a one-game suspension, said Clemens considered appealing but decided it was better to get it over with. The penalty means the Rocket's next start will be pushed back, maybe by just one day.

"We talked about it, but with something like that, it's like trying to plan for a rainy day,'' Torre said.

In Monday's opener, Toronto's Jesse Litsch threw behind Alex Rodriguez's legs. On Tuesday, Blue Jays right-hander Josh Towers hit the Yankees third baseman on his right calf with a pitch in the third inning, clearing both benches and bullpens.

Clemens paid the Blue Jays back by hitting Rios with his first pitch in the seventh. Clemens and Torre were ejected by plate umpire Angel Hernandez.

With Torre banned from the dugout on Friday, bench coach Don Mattingly managed the Yankees.

The Blue Jays had been angry with Rodriguez for a few months. They felt he distracted Howie Clark on a key popup late in a game on May 30, yelling at the infielder as A-Rod approached third base.

For his part in the altercations in Toronto, Rodriguez was fined $1,000 and Torre $750, while Yankees coaches Larry Bowa and Tony Pena were fined $500 each. Toronto's Matt Stairs, Blue Jays coach Brian Butterfield and Towers also were fined.

Torre felt the Blue Jays, and especially Towers, deserved stiffer penalties. He also felt the umpires could have done a better job understanding the tension between the clubs.

"He [Towers] didn't get anything?'' Torre said. "Oh, he was fined. I'm surprised. The way things are handled these days, it kind of encourages more stuff. Years ago, it took care of itself on the field. It was over and done with. Some umpires don't have a feel for the game.

"It's often better to use common sense instead of the black and white letter of the law.''

Torre wandered into the Yankees' clubhouse before batting practice. He joked that he could only stay there for a short time.

"I was going to go into the stands and watch with my uniform on, but that's against the rules,'' he said.