SAN FRANCISCO - Roger Clemens is going to finish up in Boston. Or, maybe not. But the Red Sox do appear to have an edge in the person of Al Nipper, Clemens’ former teammate, longtime friend and, most recently, the bullpen coach and acting pitching coach while Dave Wallace awaits hip replacement surgery.
“When he gets close to making a decision, I’m confident he’s going to give me a call, because he told me he’d call and we’d talk more,’’ Nipper told the Boston Globe.
“I just think it would be a great ending to his career. There’s no question it would give our city a huge lift, it would give our club a huge lift, and it would give our pitching staff a huge lift. He could come back home here and end his career in storybook fashion.’’
Nipper and Clemens had a long conversation in Texas early in the season and since have exchanged e-mails.
As of today, Clemens is free to negotiate with Houston, where he played last season, and the question remains whether he will play at all. At the same time, he is so competitive it is hard to see him walking away from a sport he continued to dominate in 2005, leading the major leagues in ERA while reaching the World Series.
Clemens has said he will wear a Red Sox hat when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame, which could mean that Houston, Texas and the Yankees are behind Boston. With Clemens, Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett, the Red Sox could match up with anyone in a three-game series in September.
“This is absolutely the ending, and when he signs, it’s going to be for a half a year,’’ Nipper said, as if he is privy to Clemens’ plans. “His family, everybody will be out of school. They’re going to be with him and they’re going to sacrifice that time, and he’s going to do it right.”
Nipper laughed when asked if he felt any pressure to deliver. “I guess I could kidnap him,’’ he said.
IT ALL ADDS UP
Seattle utility player Willie Bloomquist, a former Arizona State star, ran his consecutive stolen base streak to 18 straight Saturday, many of them as a pinch runner, when the opponents have a good idea he will be running.
But Bloomquist does not see it as taking much of a risk. He just does the math.
He was successful last Monday against White Sox pitcher Brandon McCarthy, whose delivery time is about 1.5 seconds. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski takes about 1.9 seconds to get a throw to second, so Bloomquist knew he was in good shape.
“If I get my normal jump, I can get to second base in 3.2 seconds. If those numbers don’t change, they can’t throw me out,’’ said Bloomquist, whose steal in the 11th set up the winning run.
SHIPS IN THE NIGHT
With a save in Saturday’s 9-6 win over Tampa Bay, Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon became the first big league pitcher to get 10 saves in April after entering that season without a save.
“Papelbon’s been perfect,’’ Schilling said. “It’s very simple for him right now from a thought-process standpoint.’’
Texas changed closers when Francisco “Coco’’ Cordero failed to convert his fifth save opportunity of the month, setting a major league record for April. He has blown four since April 19.
The Rangers turned to erstwhile setup man Akinori Otsuka, obtained with injured Adam Eaton for Chris Young in the offseason.
JACQUE IN THE BOX
Jacque Jones hit a three-run home run last Monday to temporarily silence his Wrigley Field critics, but he is having trouble adjusting to the stream of boos following his .188 start after signing a three-year, $16 million contract last winter.
“I’m angry right now,’’ Jones said. “It’s almost funny. It’s almost funny.
“I’ve seen friends go through it. Sammy Sosa hit 60 homers three years in a row, went into a little slump, and . . .
“We probably didn’t draw as many (in Minnesota, his former team), but they were there through thick and thin. This (booing) is something I have to get used to. I’m blocking it out as much as I can.’’
“If you have to spend a day in jail, at least it’s an off day, so you don’t miss a game. There were some pretty good athletes in there. So if they get out, we might be able to work a couple out.”
- Washington general manager Jim Bowden, after being detained on suspicion of DUI in South Florida
Going nowhere fast
Florida owner Jeffrey Loria called his rebuilding Marlins “the beginning of something really special’’ while reiterating that young stars Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, right, will not be traded. “We’re trying to build a team,’’ Loria said. “We build it around those two guys. It’s the same thing as building an art collection.’’
Mets opponents for 200, Alex
Joe Torre and his wife were watching the Mets on TV Tuesday when the AFLAC trivia question was: “Other than Barry Bonds, who is the only player to play at least 100 games against the Mets with two different teams?” Torre turned to his wife and said: “Steve Garvey.’’ The answer was . . . Joe Torre.
The Chicago White Sox, looking to take advantage of every perk following their first World Series title in 88 years, spent Thursday’s off day as Hugh Hefner’s guests at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles. The visit was taped and will be shown on the E! Network reality show, “The Girls Next Door.’’ Looking ahead Johnny Damon returns to Fenway Park today, when “idiot’’ might no longer be a term of endearment.