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Clemens 'very close to retirement,' but ...

TOKYO -- Roger Clemens is still deciding whether to pitch again next season.

"I'm very close to retirement," Clemens told reporters Friday in Japan. "Obviously, I haven't made the decision for the upcoming season yet."

Clemens is in Japan for an eight-game tour with other major-league stars. He was scheduled to start the opening game at Tokyo Dome on Friday.

The 42-year-old Clemens won twice in the playoffs for Houston last month. He had a sixth-inning lead in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series at Busch Stadium but gave up a go-ahead homer to St. Louis' Scott Rolen and wound up with a season-ending loss.

James Murray of Hendricks Sports Management is traveling with the six-time Cy Young Award winner and said Clemens plans to make a decision by January.

The Rocket already called it quits once, after the 2003 season, but then came out of a brief retirement to pitch for his hometown Houston Astros in 2004.