The 50-year-old Clemens signed with the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League and he’s predicted to start for the junior league team on Saturday at home against Bridgeport.
“His fastball was clocked at 87 mph; all his pitches were working,” said Randy Hendricks, Clemens’ agent. “He threw a 3-inning simulated game after an extensive workout warm-up.”
Clemens and Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti have been talking about this “for months,” Hendricks said.
Clemens, who was acquitted in June of charges he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs, hasn’t played for a team since pitching for the Yankees in 2007 at the age of 45. He went 6-6 in 18 games with a 4.18 ERA that season.
Texas Rangers pitcher Roy Oswalt, an ex teammate of Clemens with the Houston Astros, is happy about his friend’s return to baseball.
“I think he’s going to show everyone that all that stuff that he had to go thru had nothing to do with the success he had in the major leagues,” Oswalt recounted. “He said he is 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 has been throwing batting practice to one of his sons often, and Oswalt asserted that Clemens “feels pretty good.”
Yankees chief Joe Girardi, who is 3 years younger than Clemens, asserted it is tough to get that urge to compete out of your blood.
“He’s always really liked to compete,” Girardi related of Clemens. “That’s who he is. He kept coming back. There were times he felt that he could not quite go a full season, but he gave it as much as he had. He really liked to compete. That sure is a hard thing to replace is that competition. Guys miss it.”
Clemens had 2 great seasons with the Houston Astros after he turned 40 years old, going 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 2004 to win his record-tying 7th Cy Young Award. He was 13-8 with a career-low 1.87 ERA in 2005.
Clemens earned $160 million and won 354 games in a 24-year career with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros. His 4,672 strikeouts are 3rd-most all time and he was named to 11 All-Star Games.
Now he’ll see what he has left for the Skeeters, who play in the Atlantic League. He joins a roster that includes former big league pitchers Tim Redding and Scott Kazmir and Jason Lane, a teammate of Clemens’ on Houston’s 2005 World Series team.
It is not clear how long Clemens will pitch for the Skeeters. Baseball lines
Clemens is ready to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot going to voters towards the end of the year; if he appeared in a major league game his Hall consideration would be pushed back 5 years.
Clemens will be appearing on the ballot for the first time, alongside fellow greats Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. They are 4 of the most notable players to excel during baseball’s steroids era of the late 1990s and into 2000.
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