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Clemens tries again to get his 300th career win

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DETROIT (AP) — Roger Clemens will soon join a club that may not admit any more members.

Clemens will make his second attempt at career win No. 300 against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, a milestone just 20 have reached and none have since 1990.

Former All-Star pitcher Jack Morris, who has 254 career wins and three World Series rings, will not be surprised if the 300 club is stuck at 21 with No. 22 of the New York Yankees.

"It's a milestone in today's era that is an incredible feat," said Morris, who pitched from 1977-94. "Tom Glavine might have a chance. Greg Maddux, maybe. After those guys, we might not see it again.

"I questioned five years ago if anybody would reach 300 when Roger had a sore arm and some baseball people thought he might be done. Then his arm came back to life, he got on a good team and he's pitching as well as he ever has. It's truly remarkable."

Clemens, who won his 299th game on May 21 against Boston, is looking to become the first 300-game winner since Nolan Ryan joined the elite group 13 years ago. He failed in his first bid for his 300th win on Monday at home against Boston.

"A couple years ago, it became more of a goal," Clemens acknowledged.

Clemens (299-154) has won 66 percent of his games 20-year career with the Boston, Toronto and the Yankees.

Lefty Grove (.680) and Christy Mathewson (.665) are the only pitchers with 300 wins and a better winning percentage than Clemens. Both pitched in the early 1900s.

While Clemens plans to retire following the season, he does not intend to allow his next win to stand alone among his accomplishments this year.

"I'm never satisfied and I'm never going to get complacent with what I do until I know this is over," said Clemens, who turns 41 on Aug. 4. "Right now, you can think about 300. But once that passes, I've got people browbeating me to keep going. We still have a larger goal here and that's what I like."

Clemens insisted that pitching for a 300th win — again — is not wearing on him, but he hopes the 50 guests he'll have on Sunday will see what they're coming to see.

"Hopefully, we don't have to do this again next week," he said. "As far as worrying, not at this point in my career. It's going to happen."

Clemens has been defined by big numbers since making his major league debut for Boston in 1984 — a record six Cy Young Awards, over 4,000 innings, a 20-game winning streak, 3,985 strikeouts and a pair of games in which he fanned 20.

Clemens' second 20-strikeout game was on Sept. 18, 1996, against Detroit in Tiger Stadium.

"It was a special night in which I tied Cy Young for wins and career shutouts when I was with Boston," Clemens said.

Against the offensively challenged Tigers, Clemens has a legitimate shot at reaching the 4,000-strikeout mark.

Detroit manager Alan Trammell, who batted over .300 against Clemens, said he had some success against him because of the challenge.

"When you face the elite like that, they can embarrass you," Trammell said. "The fear of failure and embarrassment was something I did not like. I found a way to find a little extra because against the best, you need a little extra. We hope our guys can say on any given day, somebody can do something special."

Hall of Famer Al Kaline faced believes Clemens would have been great in any era.

"He belongs near the very top of the list of the greatest pitchers ever, especially with all his Cy Youngs," said Kaline, who played for the Tigers from 1953-74. "It looks like he could go on and on. He's been a credit to the game. I love watching him pitch."

Before Clemens threw his first pitch in the top of first in his last outing, Boston manager Grady Little came out to complain to the home plate umpire about a 300-win patch on the back of his glove.

The umpire and the crew chief went to the mound to talk to Clemens. A bat boy brought out a new glove for the Rocket, drawing boos from the Yankee Stadium crowd. Clemens retired the Red Sox in order in the first.

"I think they're working on something," Clemens said when asked if he would wear a special glove on Sunday. "Who knows? I don't know if it will be that one. I'll probably use the one I've always used. It's really a non-issue."

Like Morris, Yankees manager Joe Torre believes Clemens is set to join a group that may not expand much. He thinks Maddux will join the 300 club and said Glavine has an outside chance.

"But once this crop of pitchers is finished, it's going to be eons before somebody goes for 300 again," Torre said.