Let's get this mailbag thing rolling, see if anyone enjoys it. You can send me mailbag questions at email@example.com.
This question comes from Yochai of Brookline, MA:
What's the deal with Matt Clement? What are the Red Sox's plans in regards to him? Are they basically going to wait until his contract expires or are they actually waiting for him to come back to pitch?
Clement underwent shoulder surgery last September. An exploratory procedure found labrum and rotator cuff damage, and that was repaired. Clement's agent has compared the work done to that of Saints QB Drew Brees. Serious stuff.
Back in November, Clement was making positive progress in his rehab and hoped to return to action by the All-Star break. He threw for the first time in February. He was up to 105 feet in the last report in April, but wasn't close to throwing off a mound. According to that report, he was setback free and ahead of schedule.
Unfortunately I can't find a word in print about Clement since the April 25th Boston Herald article. Maybe injury gurus Will Carroll and Rick Wilton can dig something up, or a reporter can just ask Terry Francona.
Clement is earning $9.5MM this season in the last year of his contract. My guess is that the Red Sox will take their time with him and treat him as a complete luxury. If he's able to pitch competitively sometime around August, he's going to have to prove himself in the minors first. Will his velocity still be there? By the time Clement returns, Jon Lester may be in the rotation in place of Julian Tavarez. If not, and everyone else is healthy, Lester will be the sixth man.
I can definitely see Clement pitching in the bullpen to re-establish himself. If the Red Sox clinch a playoff berth, maybe they'd rest a rotation member and give him a start or two. It will mainly be an audition for the 2008 season, during which Clement will be 34. No doubt he will hook on somewhere as a free agent if his arm is still attached. Let's say $3 mil plus a ton of incentives. I'm rooting for him and I have my Clement goatee ready.
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