TORONTO, SEPT. 15 -- Roger Clemens's right shoulder apparently is not as severely damaged as had been feared. Perhaps no one is more relieved than Manager Joe Morgan -- and not just because he needs Clemens.

Morgan also had a great deal of guilt to deal with. It's difficult to blame him for what transpired, but it was Morgan's cool-of-late relationship with Clemens that helped create the distrustful atmosphere in which the burly right-hander nearly pitched himself into a career-threatening injury.

Clemens's self-destructive display came partly from his almost-otherwordly drive to carry the Red Sox to the AL East Division crown and partly because he apparently didn't feel he could tell Morgan about the injury.

Clemens guards revelations about his health strenuously, wanting to preserve a psychological advantage over hitters. So when Morgan admitted publicly in July that Clemens had undergone tests for a "tired arm," the pitcher became increasingly wary of sharing his secrets.

"Roger's not exactly very forthcoming anyway," Red Sox catcher John Marzano said. "But this time he didn't even drop a hint. It's hard to fault {Morgan}, because Roger was going so good; who could have known? But I guess he violated one of Roger's rules, and the price has been paid."

Morgan didn't find out about Clemens's troubles until he wandered back to the clubhouse to check on a minor blister after the pitcher's removal from the A's game. What he found was Clemens agonizingly icing his shoulder and unable to move his arm. "I'd have done something about it if I'd known," Morgan said. "I had no idea until that moment.

"It's hard to be mad at Roger Clemens. He just wants to win so much. He'd do anything to win. He was risking his career for it. But there comes a time when common sense has to take over for courage. . . . I don't consider it my fault, but it would have been hard not to feel at least a little bit guilty if he had been hurt very badly."

Going Shopping

The Baltimore Orioles have proclaimed that they will not hesitate to pay the going rate for a high-profile free agent or two this winter if they can find those players who promise to fulfill their needs. Their most pressing requirements, as they see it, are for a hard-throwing left-hander and a consistent run-producer in the middle of the lineup.

Their choices promise to be few. Of the 100 players eligible for free agency at the end of the season, the only reliable power hitters are Darryl Strawberry and George Bell. And even if the Orioles are willing to match the astronomical price tag for either of those two if they do file for free agency, neither is likely to choose a market of Baltimore's size.

Whether the Orioles would even want Bell, a perennial malcontent, is debatable. But he said here this weekend that if he leaves Toronto it will be for a larger stage.

Strawberry said last week he won't eliminate any club on the basis of market size. But it's likely that he will end up in New York -- if not with the Mets, then with the Yankees -- or in his hometown of Los Angeles. It's hard to imagine him anywhere but in the spotlight.

The Orioles seem more inclined to stand pat with their starters and pursue a lefty for the bullpen. Dave Righetti could be on the market, but the $3 million a year he's demanding from the Yankees would be much too steep for their tastes.

Oh Say, Could He See?

Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush, son of the president, was shadowed at last week's owners meetings in Pittsburgh by Secret Service agents, who accompany him wherever he goes. The sight led Commissioner Fay Vincent to recall his opening-day visit in Toronto.

President Bush was to throw out the first ball, and there was concern about his safety because he'd have to be on the field for two national anthems. So the president's security team dressed one agent as an umpire, and he stood with the rest of the umpiring crew near Bush during the pregame ceremonies.

"And he really looked like an umpire, too," Vincent said. . . .

Vincent expressed concern during the meetings about the ability of teams in smaller markets to compete financially while local TV rights fees soar elsewhere.

"I'm afraid one of the consequences of the market size and of the revenues is that some of these clubs are not going to be able to bid as aggressively and pay the rates," he said. "Some of {their} players may not be retainable."

The Pirates seem to be the worst-case scenario right now, as much by their approach as by their circumstances. They appear unwilling to spend the money to retain -- much less add to -- the core of a championship team that they've assembled. Eight of their players will be eligible for free agency, and most probably will leave.

But most distressingly, Pirates officials say privately that the most likely culmination to the club's ongoing contract negotiations with slugger Bobby Bonilla is that Bonilla will be traded.