Roger Clemens dazzled the Sugar Land Skeeters’ crowd with 3 1/3 scoreless innings Saturday night in an Atlantic League game against the Bridgeport Bluefish.
But although he only allowed one hit and struck out two while reaching 88 miles per hour with his fastball, the 50-year-old Rocket says he’s not sure what his next step will be just yet.
“No,” Clemens told reporters when asked if he was targeting a return to the majors. “I’ve had success before at that level and other things. Again, it’s a great deal of work and I’m not thinking about that at this point.”
The announcement last week that Clemens was returning to the mound five years after his last appearance in the majors instantly fueled speculation that his motive may be related to his Hall of Fame eligibility. Should Clemens pitch in a major-league game this season, his would not be eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot for another five years — a span that could distance himself from the so-called ‘steroid era’ of baseball.
In June, Clemens was acquitted of charges in the government’s perjury case against him. During a lengthy and highly-publicized trial, Clemens and his lawyers maintained that he did not lie to Congress when he stated he had never taken performance-enhancing drugs. The verdict was unanimous.
The Houston Astros, for whom Clemens pitched from 2004 through 2006, seem like a logical destination, and scouts from both the Astros and Royals were on hand to witness his Saturday start.
“The thing that I was impressed with is you have a 50-year-old man out there throwing 87-88 most of the night,” Royals pro scout Ron Toenjes told ESPN. “His command wasn’t as good as it could have been, but that it was a good, hard splitter, which is what you wanted to see.”
Clemens, who won 354 games over a 24-year career, said he would be open to making another start for Sugar Land. Beyond that, he’ll just have to wait and see.
“We’ll visit and if we can do something special down the road, we’ll do it again for some of the people that couldn’t be there,” Clemens said. “I’m definitely open to it if they want to do it. It was a great deal of fun for me now that it’s over and I stayed healthy.”