Notes: Padres making pitch for Clement

Notes: Padres making pitch for Clement

SAN DIEGO -- Padres general manager Kevin Towers has said that he is wary of the unknowns that come with pursuing free agents.

That certainly doesn't apply toward pitcher Matt Clement, though.

Clement's agent, Barry Axelrod, indicated this week that the Padres have expressed interest in Clement -- a former Padre -- who hasn't appeared in a Major League game since 2006.

The feeling is apparently mutual.

"They indicated potential interest there and said that Matt might be an interesting possibility in that regard," Axelrod said. "Coming the other way, Matt has an interest in the Padres."

As Towers goes about filling out the back end of his starting rotation -- he has said the team will be looking for two starters to follow Jake Peavy, Chris Young and Greg Maddux -- he is said to be considering the 33-year-old Clement.

Clement has not pitched in a game since June 14, 2006, after having arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder to repairs tears in his rotator cuff and labrum.

Clement, who is now 14 months removed from surgery, pitched in two simulated games in September for the eventual World Series champion Red Sox and then threw well during the team's Instructional League in Florida last month.

"Mike Reinold [the Red Sox assistant trainer] said he was game ready at the time," Axelrod said of Clement's arm strength at the time of his simulated games. "Talking with the Red Sox at that time, they would have loved to get him in a game, but with them in the pennant race ... it would have been tough."

Axelrod said that Clement continued to pitch well in Instructional League play and that he "threw all of his pitches and had good command and velocity." Clement was able to command his four-seam fastball, slider and his sinker.

The Red Sox opted not to keep Clement, who went 13-6 with a 4.57 ERA in 2005 and then 5-5 with a 6.61 ERA in 2006 before he was hurt. Clement signed a three-year deal with the Red Sox before 2005 for approximately $25 million.

The Padres have a couple things working in their favor should they choose to seriously pursue Clement, who is 87-86 with a 4.47 ERA in nine Major League seasons.

First, the two sides have a history together.

Clement was selected in the third round of the 1993 First-Year Player Draft by the Padres. Clement made his big league debut in 1998 before earning a spot in the rotation the following year. Clement won 10 games in 1999 with the Padres and 13 in 2000 before he was traded to Florida in the deal that netted Mark Kotsay before the 2001 season.

"[Towers] is still here and Matt and Kevin had a great relationship," said Axelrod, who represented Towers during his playing days. "[Clement] has played with Greg Maddux, he played with Josh Bard in Boston and he's familiar with [pitching coach] Darren Balsley and [trainer Todd] Hutcheson."

Something else that's working in the Padres favor is that Clement won't be looking to break the bank coming off shoulder surgery. He could be looking for a one-year deal with incentives that would make him even more attractive to the Padres.

"Coming off a year where he didn't pitch, coming off surgery, we're not expecting the multi-year, mega-millions contract," Axelrod said. "What Matt is looking for is a degree of comfort where he can rebuild his credibility as a starting pitcher."

That's something two other potential targets of the Padres -- Mark Prior and Bartolo Colon -- will be looking to do after injuries have derailed their careers.

Prior is from San Diego but has a past checkered with injuries and could still be retained by the Cubs. Colon, the 2005 American League Cy Young winner, hasn't been the same since having shoulder issues after the 2005 season.

Cy Young time: The National League Cy Young Award will be handed out Thursday, and Peavy is the considered the favorite after leading the league in victories (19), ERA (2.54) and strikeouts (240).

The award is based on regular-season performance and is selected by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Peavy would become the fourth pitcher in franchise history to win the award, as he would follow Mark Davis (1989), Gaylord Perry (1978) and Randy Jones (1976).

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.