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News » Clement looks great as Blue Jays beat Tigers

Clement looks great as Blue Jays beat Tigers

Clement looks great as Blue Jays beat Tigers
Matt Clement was walking back to the mound after hustling over to cover the bag on Curtis Granderson's grounder to first baseman Randy Ruiz when he saw catcher Rod Barajas coming over to talk to him.

Just two pitches into Clement's spring debut with the Toronto Blue Jays , what could Barajas possibly want?

"That gets your blood and adrenalin flowing,'' Clement said of his first out against a big-league hitter since 2006. "You have one of the top three fastest guys in the league, you have to sprint over to first to get him out and he just wanted to let me catch my breath.

"It was like, welcome back. Basically for me it was, OK, now I can settle in and start to pitch. When you get someone as talented as Granderson is, it puts things back in perspective.''

Clement, hoping to pitch his way back from a September 2006 surgery to repair tears in both the labrum and rotator cuff of his right shoulder, allowed a run over two solid innings of work in a 6-4 Grapefruit League victory over the Detroit Tigers yesterday.

He walked two, struck out one, threw about six sliders both pain-free and effectively, and pitched at a solid 86-88 m.p.h. on the radar gun. He missed all of 2007 and didn't rise above triple-A last year, so facing major-league hitters again was an important hurdle for him.

"To start in this kind of atmosphere, it has been a while and it felt good to do it,'' Clement said. "I think the most positive thing I have is that . . . my arm felt good. And that's part of this process, when your arm feels good you can finally pitch the way you want to pitch.''

Also thrilled with their progress yesterday were key reliever Jeremy Accardo and third baseman Scott Rolen, both also making their debuts.

Accardo allowed three hits over two scoreless innings in his first outing after missing most of last season with forearm tightness, hitting 91 on the radar gun with his fastball and 87 with his cutter, while Rolen went 1-for-2.

"It feels good,'' said Accardo, who got Gary Sheffield to hit into a double play. "It feels like I'm not even putting 100 per cent into it, I feel like I didn't even pitch.''

Rolen, meanwhile, looked solid in lining a double down the left-field line. He missed a couple of weeks last season because of his troubled left shoulder and had to adjust his swing to ease the burden on it.

"I'm certainly never used to success in the first few games of spring,'' said Rolen, "so it surprised me as much as everyone else. But I think I felt good.''

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: February 28, 2009

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