Astros keeping an eye on Clemens
ST. LOUIS (AP) Roger Clemens thinks any talk about a return to the majors is premature.
The Houston Astros decided to check him out anyway.
General manager Jeff Luhnow said Tuesday the Astros sent a scout to look at Clemens and left-hander Scott Kazmir, who also plays for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. Clemens is to make his first start on Saturday at home against Bridgeport.
Luhnow said he wasn't sure whether Clemens was trying to make it back to the big leagues or just wanted to keep doing something he was very good at for a long time. Clemens earned about $160 million and won 354 games in a 24-year career with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros, but hasn't pitched since 2007.
"I don't know what he's trying to do," Luhnow said. "I think he just wants to get back on the mound and see how it goes.
"You've got to see how you feel and how you respond, so there's a long way to go."
Clemens' agent said the right-hander has been clocked at 87 mph, but Luhnow discounted that talk because he hasn't pitched in a game yet.
"So, I think it's hard to evaluate," Luhnow said. "We did send a scout yesterday to look at him, since it's right there. There's a bunch of guys that have been in that league that have big-league time and Roger is still associated with our organization."
Clemens is playing down a major league comeback, saying he's nowhere near big league pitching shape.
"I'm 50 years old. We're just going to go out and have fun with this and make it fun for the fans," the seven-time Cy Young Award winner said Tuesday when he was introduced in Sugar Land, Texas.
Interim Astros manager Tony DeFrancesco had Clemens' son Koby at Triple-A Oklahoma City last season and said he repeatedly came across Clemens. DeFrancesco wasn't surprised Clemens still wants to pitch and believes he is serious about making it back to the majors.
DeFrancesco added Clemens was "a local fan favorite" in Houston.
"He was around me a lot last year," DeFrancesco said. "He was at the ballpark, he was on the road, we met at Starbucks quite a few times.
"When you're a competitor, you're going to keep going until they take the uniform off. Roger is definitely a competitor and I wish him the best. If you're going to go and play, the one thing on his mind is trying to get back to the major leagues."
Clemens was accused by former personal trainer Brian McNamee in the Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball of using steroids and HGH, allegations the pitcher denied before Congress. 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.
He was acquitted of all charges on June 19 after a 10-week trial and has largely stayed out of the public spotlight until now.
Clemens is due to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time late this year, unless he plays in a major league game, which would push back the timetable five years.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.