Houston Astros owner Jim Crane would entertain the idea of Roger Clemens pitching the final month of the season with the team.
In an interview with FOX 26 Sports in Houston, Crane said he would seek approval from Major League Baseball before entering serious contract negotiations with Clemens, who currently has a personal services contract with the Astros.
Clemens, who won seven Cy Young Awards as the game’s top pitcher during his 24 major league seasons, is making his professional baseball comeback Saturday night with the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.
“The only thing we don’t want to do is make it a publicity stunt,” Crane said of Clemens’s potential signing. “If we did it, I want to try and take it and turn it into a positive, which would be Roger’s doing it for the good of baseball.
“The extra proceeds on the game might go to the [Astros’] community charity deal to build [baseball] fields, do something positive out of it.”
Clemens is being non-committal, at least publicly, about an imminent return to the majors, where he won 354 games and made about $160 million US. His 4,672 strikeouts are third-most and he was named to 11 all-star games.
"I'm 50 years old. We're just going to go out and have fun with this and make it fun for the fans," said Clemens.
"I've been to the major leagues and back a couple of times. I've retired and unretired, so I wouldn't consider thinking that far ahead. I'm just going to try to get through Saturday.”
Clemens had two great seasons with the Astros after he turned 40, going 18-4 with a 2.98 earned-run average in 2004 to win his record seventh Cy Young Award. He was 13-8 with a career-low 1.87 ERA in 2005.
Texas Rangers pitcher Roy Oswalt, a former teammate of Clemens with the Astros, is excited about his friend's return to baseball.
"I think he's going to show everybody that all that stuff that he had to go through had nothing to do with the success he had in the big leagues," Oswalt said. "He said he's going to do it a little bit and see how his body responds. I wouldn't be surprised next year if he's pitching in the big leagues for somebody."
Clemens joins a Skeeters roster that includes former major league pitchers Tim Redding and Scott Kazmir and Jason Lane, a teammate of Clemens on Houston's 2005 World Series team.
Clemens is set to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot going to voters late this year. If he plays in another major league game, his Hall consideration would be pushed back five years.
The former New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays right-hander was accused of using steroids and HGH in the Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball, something he denied. The Justice Department began an investigation concerning whether Clemens had lied under oath, and in 2010 a grand jury indicted him on two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress when he testified during a deposition and at a hearing that he never used any performance-enhancing drugs.
He was acquitted of all the charges on June 19 after a 10-week trial and has largely stayed out of the public spotlight until now.
Besides Clemens’s potential big-league return, Crane is interested in having him work with the Astros pitchers.
“We’ve talked to him about … teaching our young pitchers, not necessarily taking a full-time coach [role] but working with them consistently,” said Crane.
“I’ve talked to him about … getting a lot of our young prospects in [next year] and giving them the mentality and the work ethic and the training.
“There are a lot of issues to consider,” Crane continued, “but I’m not ruling [singing him to pitch this season] out. If we don’t do it, somebody else is going to do it."With files from The Associated Press