Roger Clemens will take the mound again when he starts for the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters on Saturday night in an independent league game against the Bridgeport (Conn.) Bluefish.
Clemens, who is 50 and last pitched in September 2007 for the Yankees, says he's not ready for another shot at the majors, yet the lowly Houston Astros are sending a scout to the game. It just so happens that Clemens has a personal services contract with the Astros.
Mixed signals by all seem to be standard operating procedure.
"I don't know how much clearer I can say it," Clemens said Friday. "I'm nowhere near major league ready, nor have I been training or pitching in that type of mode."
The Astros could use help on the field as well as at the gate. While they have said Clemens is not in their long-term plans, he could be used in the short term.
"If it goes all right and he comes to us, we'll talk to baseball about it at length,” Astros owner Jim Crane told television station KRIV. “The only thing we don't want to do is make it a publicity stunt. 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."
Although Clemens has a 10-year contract with the Astros, he can pitch in the minors or majors.
"He can sign with any team that he’d like,” Crane told Zachary Levine of the Ultimate Astros blog.
The Skeeters sold out their 7,500-seat stadium within 90 minutes after Clemens' return was announced. The team reportedly ordered 1,500 T-shirts with his name and No. 21 on the back, and at $15 they were a hot-selling item at the stadium's store.
"Hopefully, this is not the only time he'll pitch for us," said Christopher Hill, the Skeeters' vice president of business development. "He's the biggest name in baseball."
The game, which starts at 7:05 p.m. Central time, will be aired on ESPN Classic and streamed live on ESPN3. Interviews with Clemens before and after the game as well as with Skeeters Manager Gary Gaetti during the game will be aired, according to ESPN.
Wire services and Internet reports contributed to this story.
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