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Red Sox confident without Clemens

Red Sox confident without Clemens

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Whether the Red Sox win the World Series again, make the playoffs, or miss the postseason entirely this year, what Curt Schilling said about the team's unsuccessful pursuit of Roger Clemens on Sunday will stand as the statement of record for Red Sox Nation to debate.

News of Clemens signing with the Yankees spread throughout the Metrodome by the sixth inning of Boston's eventual 4-3 victory over Minnesota. And Schilling, the winning pitcher, spoke with confidence that the Red Sox will be fine anyway.

"It would have been nice to have him, but we didn't need him. We don't need him," Schilling said.

"It's May. We have a long way to go. But I like this team. I feel like we are legitimate World Series contenders without him."

Schilling, who idolized Clemens as a Boston Minor League prospect in the mid-1980s, said the Sox have good chemistry now, and he declined to guess whether the addition of Clemens might upset that.

"I'm not going to go into hypotheticals," he said. "I'm sure it will be a nice boost over there with what they've gone through. But I'm not going down that road."

In the end, Clemens -- who won 192 games for the Red Sox from 1984 through 1996 -- chose to once again sign with the team that employed his pal and fellow Texan, Andy Pettitte, instead of the one where he began his Major League career. Clemens and Hall of Famer Cy Young share the Sox record for career victories.

"Any time you get one of the greatest pitchers who ever lived on your staff, that's a plus," said right-hander Josh Beckett, himself a Texan. "Unless the Yankees decide to trade him to us, we'll just have to move on without him."

Red Sox management officials were not immediately available for comment. The club released a statement after the game that was not attributed to a particular person:

"We met with Randy Hendricks earlier this week and, at Randy's request, made an offer to Roger Clemens. We offered a substantial salary and suggested, for health purposes, that Clemens return on approximately the same timetable as last year. Today we learned from Randy that Clemens has signed elsewhere."

Roger Clemens

Manager Terry Francona said he heard the news about Clemens during the game, but couldn't remember precisely when.

"Unless he's pitching Tuesday, and I don't think they'll be able to pull that off, we'll be all right," he said.

The Red Sox play in Toronto on Tuesday. They do not face the Yankees again until June 1-3 at Fenway Park, when Clemens presumably will be ready to pitch.

Otherwise, Red Sox players reacted with a mix of surprise and indifference. Daisuke Matsuzaka appeared startled when told by an interpreter, then admitted he was surprised.

"But I'm not disappointed," he said.

Added team captain Jason Varitek: "It's kind of out of our hands. It's obviously his decision. We've got to keep the pitching staff going in the right direction."

The Sox began Sunday with the second-best overall staff ERA in the American League at 3.34, with its relievers ranked first (2.28) and its starters third (3.78).

"I like the way this team is composed right now," Schilling said. "I like the people. This team has great makeup and incredible chemistry."

And good enough pitching, Schilling thinks, even without Clemens.

"I could care less now," Schilling said. "What's done is done. I'm happy with what we've got."

Pat Borzi is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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