Clemens gets NL ring, remains unsure of future

Updated: April 5, 2006, 12:27 AM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Even Roger Clemens' sons want an answer.

Clemens watched on television Monday night as the Houston Astros beat the Florida Marlins in their season opener.

"My little ones, they're putting their two cents in every night," Clemens said, referring to some of his four sons. "I'm sitting there watching the game last night and they're looking over at me saying, 'What are you doing? Who are you going to play for?'

"I said, 'I'm playing for the home team right now. We're going to go out and hit in the cage do the things we love to do around the house,'" he said.

The Clemens speculation tour came to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday as the Rocket and the rest of last year's Astros got their NL championship rings.

Clemens shook hands with owner Drayton McLane and pumped his fist to the crowd during a pregame ceremony before the Astros played the Marlins at Minute Maid Park. Then Clemens repeated what he's been saying for months: He hasn't decided if he'll play a 23rd season.

"If I'm going to get out here and decide to do this again, I'd have to really commit to it," Clemens said. "That's as far as I'm thinking about right now."

The Astros, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees are interested in signing Clemens if he decides to come back. The Astros can't re-sign him May 1.

Clemens certainly seems to be listening to every offer.

He was in Arlington on Opening Day as a guest of Rangers owner Tom Hicks. The Rangers played Boston and Clemens also met with Red Sox owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and other team officials. Clemens and his agents have also spoken to the Yankees.

"It's all about, do I want to challenge myself and help somebody win?" he said. "At this point, I don't have any feelings either way."

Clemens and his wife, Debbie, sat with McLane behind home plate on Tuesday night.

Houston would seem to be the logical place for Clemens to end his career. He grew up in Texas, lives in Houston and his oldest son, Koby, plays for the Astros' Class-A affiliate in Lexington, Ky. Clemens was flying to Kentucky on Wednesday to see his son play.

Clemens pitched to minor-leaguers at Astros' spring training camp, fueling speculation that he would return. He pitched in the World Baseball Classic and got questions from players from several teams.

"It's very flattering," he said. "But there's a lot that goes into it. If I just worked to go back, get a paycheck and be very average, I could do that.

"If I come back, it's not necessarily a team that's winning its division, either. It's a team I still think can win and a team I can help in a big way. That's my approach," he said.

Clemens led the majors with his career-best 1.87 ERA last season but broke down with hamstring and groin injuries late in the year.

He felt fine after the World Baseball Classic and left the tournament impressed by the quality of the international teams -- and the devotion of the Japanese and South Korean fans.

Remembering back to a Japan-South Korea game in Anaheim, Calif., Clemens said he took clothes to a dry cleaners and was told he wouldn't get them back for nearly a week.

"They said, 'You've got no chance,' they told me," Clemens said. "I said, 'I'm going to get it tomorrow, right?' And then she goes, `No chance, we're going to the game.' So we couldn't get dry cleaning done out there, but I guess the neatest thing about them was there were about 50,000 of them at Anaheim Stadium, Korea and Japan.

"Even in Arizona, when we played Mexico there, it was so festive. It really makes you sit back and realize our game is played the right way in a number of different countries."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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