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Pettitte begins to throw

HOUSTON -- Right now, Roger Clemens is leaning toward retirement. Fortunately for the Houston Astros, he's still making up his mind.

"If I had to decide today, I'd say I'm not playing," Clemens
said Thursday. "But I'm not saying that. My wife and family want
me to wait until after I take a vacation before I make a
decision."

"Three of my sons say there's no way they want me to come back and one of them wants me to. But I think he just likes the buffets they have at the games. So we'll have to see," he said.

Clemens was at Minute Maid Park with former president George
Bush to announce the Houston Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association
was giving 1.3 million pounds of fruit and vegetables to a city
food bank.

Clemens said he didn't have any comment on baseball's steroid
controversy. Asked if he thought Barry Bonds' records were tainted
because the slugger reportedly testified he took substances that
federal prosecutors say are steroids, Clemens said, "No," and
took no more questions.

The 42-year-old Rocket won his seventh Cy Young award after
going 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA last season in his first year in the
National League. Trying to pitch his hometown Astros into the World
Series for the first time, he lost Game 7 of the NL championship
series at St. Louis.

"I'm not ready to say yes or no about my future," he said. "I
know which way I'm leaning, but I want to get away on vacation a
while and see how I feel after that."

Clemens has said the health of his 74-year-old mother, Bess, who
has emphysema, would be a factor in his decision. He wants her to
be able to see him inducted in the Hall of Fame, which is at least
five years away after he retires.

"My mother's health is not getting any better," Clemens said.

Clemens said he isn't worried about being prepared physically
for another season.

"I feel like I know my body and what it would take to get
ready," he said. "Physically, if I made the decision on that, I
could do it. But mentally, I'm gassed."

"But I'm not even thinking about baseball right now. I have
enough on my plate with my community work and my foundation. I'm
keeping very busy."

The Astros are still hoping to entice free-agent center fielder
Carlos Beltran to return. This week, Clemens' close friend, Andy Pettitte, began throwing for the first time at Minute Maid since
having surgery on his left elbow in August.

Pettitte threw about 30 pitches. He plans to throw about three
times a week over the next month.

"Right now, it is just like baby steps," he said. "I've got
no pain. If there was pain, I wouldn't be throwing."

Clemens said the future of Beltran and Pettitte might influence
his decision.

"There's no doubt, the goals of the team will be a big part of
the decision of what I will do," Clemens said. "I'm a
season-ticket holder, so I'll be here whether I play or not."