Pettitte begins to throw

Updated: December 9, 2004, 3:35 PM ET
Associated Press

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."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press