Over the last couple of years, Roger Clemens and other Houston Astros pitchers have been victimized by poor run support. Tip Fairchild got an idea of how they felt Thursday.

Fairchild was scheduled to throw the ninth inning in a split squad game between the Astros and the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla. He was all set to follow Fernando Nieve and Matt Albers on the mound. Unfortunately, the Astros weren’t able to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the top of the ninth, thus squelching the Monmouth native’s hopes of seeing his first action in a Major League spring training game.

“(Nieve and Albers) are both starters, so they were both going to throw four, and then I was going to come in,” he said while riding the team bus back to the Astros’ spring training home in Kissimmee. “I warmed up in the eighth and the ninth, and I was hoping to get in there for the bottom of the ninth, but we lost.”

He said he was disappointed he didn’t get to pitch, but didn’t consider it a wasted trip. He took some consolation in getting a taste of life in the big leagues.

“It was a pretty good experience altogether,” he said. “It’s 100 times different than the minor leagues.

“They carry all your bags, and the clubhouse has whatever kind food and drink you want.”

Fairchild will report to the Astros’ Double-A affiliate in Corpus Christi, Texas today. The regular season begins April 5 in Wichita, and Fairchild expects to get his turn in the rotation a day or two later.

“My bags are packed and in the car, and I’m ready to go,” he said.


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