Fifty-year-old Roger Clemens made his second start for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters last night, throwing 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out one, walked zero, and allowed two hits while his son Koby was behind the plate. In his two starts for the Skeeters, he's allowed no runs on three hits in eight innings. Following the game, Clemens spoke to reporters (including Fran Blinebury of The New York Post) about what's next...
“Well, not this year,” replied Clemens when asked if he'll pitch in the big leagues this season, reiterating what he said a few days ago. “But we’ll see what happens after that. I’m not going to rule anything out. I don’t know what Koby is going to do, where he ends up. I hope to end up probably in February with the Astros, put on a uniform and help those kids. That’s probably next.”
He didn't specify if he would like to wear that uniform as a player or coach, though I think it's fair to assume he would prefer to be an active player. Astros owner Jim Crane is open to signing Clemens and they have been scouting his recent outings, but it doesn't sounds like the two sides have had any dialogue about a contract yet.
"I'd listen to [Crane], but I'd have to do some work again," said Clemens. "I just don’t think I'm close to pitching in a Major League game."
ESPN's Buster Olney says (on Twitter) that Clemens opened last night's outing by throwing 79 mph in the first inning, but that climbed to 84 in the second, 86 in the third and fourth, and then 87 in the fifth. That is obviously way down from his prime, ditto the 90.3 mph he averaged with the Yankees during his final season in 2007.
Returning to a Major League club as an active player (and appearing in a game) would restart Clemens' five-year waiting period for the Hall of Fame. He will appear on the ballot for the first time next year along with Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, and others. Despite his seven Cy Young Awards and historic playing career overall, Clemens seems unlikely to be inducted into Cooperstown on the first ballot due to the PED shroud. Delaying his candidacy five years could improve his chances for induction.