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Clemens' final Yankee Stadium start on tap?

NEW YORK -- The moment will pass without Roger Clemens' four
sons witnessing it.

After 20 seasons, 605 starts, 309 victories and 4,096
strikeouts, Clemens will take the mound today against Baltimore
for his final regular-season start. His family, however, will
remain in Texas.

"Football's going on," Clemens said Friday. "I'm second
fiddle."

Clemens, with 16 victories and 187 strikeouts this season, will
try to add to those totals as the Yankees play Baltimore in their
second-to-last game of the regular season.

He is guaranteed at least one more start, in Game 3 of the
Yankees' first-round series against Minnesota.

Manager Joe Torre announced his playoff rotation Friday, giving
the 41-year-old Clemens the start at the Metrodome. That could end
up being the last major-league appearance for Clemens, who says he
has no regrets about making this season his last.

"I know I can still do it. But I've done it," Clemens said.
"I've touched everything I wanted to hit on. I'm just excited
about the opportunity to get back to the postseason one more time
before this all comes to a close. I'm at peace with it because I
didn't leave anything behind."

One of the most dominating power pitchers of his era, the burly
right-hander has put together another successful season with a
record of 16-9 and a 3.94 ERA with just 55 walks in 205 2/3
innings. Included among his 16 victories was a five-hit shutout
against Anaheim on July 30- the 46th of his career.

"I'm certainly glad I had the opportunity to manage him because
I never would have known him as a person," said Torre, who was not
a fan of Clemens when managing against him.

Five years together, however, has changed Torre's thinking.

"I didn't care for him very much knowing what type of pitcher he was, an intimidator," Torre said. "But you get him over here and you realize why he's still pitching in his 40s -- because he's
still a kid. He loves it. ... He's very honest, very sincere and he
cares dearly about everybody around him, not just himself.

"You watch him across the field, and it just looks like he's
out in a world by himself. But that's not even close to knowing
what he's all about," Torre said.

Clemens has mentioned the possibility of pitching for the United
States at next summer's Athens Olympics, but a return to the majors
seems out of the question for baseball's only six-time Cy Young
Award winner.

A nine-time All-Star, Clemens will finish third on the career
strikeouts list behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Steve Carlton
(4,136).

He needs 13 strikeouts Saturday to reach 200 strikeouts for the
12th time. Clemens will go for it in the ballpark that has been his
home for the past half-decade following 13 seasons in Boston and
two in Toronto.

"Depending on the crowd's reaction and how everything goes
down, I'll think about it a little bit before I take the mound.
Then after that, I won't think about it at all after I get in the
flow of the game," Clemens said.

Clemens won championships with the Yankees in 1999 and 2000, and
the ultimate capper to his final season would be to win a third.

The Yankees have a chance to finish the regular season with the
best record in baseball, and they'll go into the first round of the
playoffs as a huge favorite after going 7-0 this season against the
Twins and 13-0 over the last two seasons.

Clemens has a career record of 23-12 against Minnesota,
including 11-6 at the Metrodome -- which made Torre all the more
comfortable with slotting Clemens for Game 3.

If the Yankees get past the Twins, there will remain a
possibility that Clemens can pitch at least once more at Yankee
Stadium as the franchise tries to add to its record of 26
championships.

"There's probably five to seven guys at least in here that
don't have a World Series ring, maybe more, and we need to get them
one," Clemens said. "They came here to win and be known as a
champion."