Rocket to pitch to minor-leaguers at Astros camp

Updated: February 27, 2006, 10:32 AM ET
Associated Press

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Roger Clemens will pitch to minor-leaguers at Houston Astros spring training camp on Monday, his oldest son and the Astros said.

Roger Clemens
Clemens

The 43-year-old Clemens wants to pitch in the World Baseball Classic and then decide if he'll retire or play a 23rd season, said Koby Clemens, a third baseman in the Astros' farm system.

Koby Clemens said his father was due to arrive in Florida on Sunday night and was planning to pitch to minor-leaguers in a simulated game setting Monday afternoon. Koby has been working out at Astros spring training camp since Thursday.

The Astros confirmed that the seven-time Cy Young winner would be at camp on Monday.

Clemens, a free agent, wasn't offered salary arbitration by the Astros and cannot re-sign with them until May 1. He could join another team before that, and Texas, Boston and the Yankees are reportedly interested.

Houston general manager Tim Purpura said the Astros got permission from Major League Baseball to allow the Rocket to pitch at their spring training complex.

Clemens led the major leagues with a 1.87 ERA last year but was plagued by back and hamstring problems late in the season. He limped off the field after just two innings in the World Series opener.

Koby Clemens said his dad was ready to retire in December, but his family talked him out of it.

"We were all like, 'You should wait and allow yourself to rest your body,'" Koby said. "He was still kind of hurting, kind of tired. He was like, 'I don't want to do this again.'"

Many of the Astros expect Clemens to play for them again this season. Manager Phil Garner said Sunday he hasn't asked Clemens what he'll do but thought the Astros offered the best situation -- a shortened season close to his family and his home.

"He knows how much we would like to have him back," Garner said. "I think this is the perfect spot for him."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press