Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rocket Roger launches minor comeback

Now 50, he'll pitch in Atlantic League

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HOUSTON -- Roger Clemens isn't done with baseball quite yet.

The 50-year-old Clemens signed with the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League on Monday and he is expected to start for the minor league team on Saturday at home against Bridgeport.

"His fastball was clocked at 87 mph; all of his pitches were working," said Randy Hendricks, Clemens' agent. "He threw a three-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.

Clemens had two great seasons with the Astros after he turned 40, going 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 2004 to win his record-tying seventh 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 Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays and Astros. His 4,672 strikeouts are third-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 major league pitchers Tim Redding and Scott Kazmir and Jason Lane, a teammate of Clemens' on Houston's 2005 World Series team.

It isn't clear how long Clemens will pitch for the Skeeters.

"This is a one game at a time thing," Hendricks said. "Let's see how he does on Saturday."

Clemens is set to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot going to voters late this year; if he appeared in a major league game his Hall consideration would be pushed back five years.

Clemens was accused of using steroids and HGH in the Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball. He appeared at a congressional deposition where he denied using any performance-enhancing drugs. 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.

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.

The signing was first reported by Houston television station KRIV.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 21, 2012 C3

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