MLB: Roger Clemens coming back? 50-year-old to pitch for Sugar Land Skeeters

MLB: Roger Clemens coming back? 50-year-old to pitch for Sugar Land Skeeters

MLB: Roger Clemens coming back? 50-year-old to pitch for Sugar Land Skeeters

(PhatzRadio / USA Today) — The last time he attempted a pitching comeback, Roger Clemens was amply compensated monetarily but found little reward on the field.

Now he’s seeking that satisfaction with little immediate financial incentive.

Clemens, 50, who last pitched in the majors with the New York Yankees in 2007, will return to the mound Saturday night when he starts for the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League against the Bridgeport (Conn.) Bluefish.

His agent, Randy Hendricks, confirmed the decision to USA TODAY Sports. Clemens has scheduled a news conference for this morning.

Clemens will be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in December. But he could reset the clock on that vote if he pitches in the major leagues. There is a five-year eligibility waiting period after a player retires.

Former Houston Astros general manager Tal Smith, a consultant for the Skeeters, said Clemens looked impressive in a Monday workout and still yearns to pitch. The Astros also attended the workout, but owner Jim Crane told the Houston Chronicle they had no current plans to sign him.

Clemens scored a major legal victory in June when he was acquitted of charges he had lied to Congress under oath when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

After Clemens’ acquittal, Crane said he’d welcome Clemens back to the Astros organization. Could that now occur in a playing capacity?

Hendricks would not elaborate on whether Clemens’ ultimate destination could be Minute Maid Park, where the 39-83 Astros are on pace to draw less than 2 million fans for the first time in the stadium’s 13-year history. Clemens pitched for the Astros from 2004 to 2006.

“It is at this point a fun, local, one-time kind of thing,” Hendricks said via e-mail. “If he does well, he will probably make at least one more home start. He threw 87 mph today with four pitches working, so he looks good to go at this point.”

Said Smith: “Roger is in superb condition. He’s got a great deal of pride; he’s got a great deal of love (for baseball).”

Clemens’ 10-week trial was the culmination of a saga that began in December 2007, when the Mitchell Report accused Clemens of using steroids and human growth hormone.

Clemens had concluded his storied career in undistinguished fashion two months before the Mitchell Report was released. After signing a $28 million contract to come out of retirement, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner went 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA for the Yankees, then gave up three runs in 2? innings in his only playoff start.

The path to Clemens’ return, Smith said, was laid by conversations the pitcher had with Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti, the former major league third baseman who served as the Astros hitting coach from 2004 to 2006. Clemens pitched for the Astros during those years.

Clemens will be joining a pitching staff full of ex-major leaguers, including Scott Kazmir, Gary Majewski, Tim Redding, Saul Rivera, Jeff Farnsworth and Pedro Liriano, plus former outfielder and now pitcher Jason Lane.

Smith compared the quality of play in the Atlantic League to Class AAA for hitters and AA for pitchers. Players typically make between $1,500-$3,000 a month, so remuneration probably was not much of a factor for Clemens.

“That’s a very minor consideration,” Smith said. “He’s not doing it for the money, he’s doing it for the opportunity.”

Contributing: Paul White, Bob Nightengale

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