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Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Clemens selected for U.S. 30-man WBC roster

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Roger Clemens will be firing fastballs and splitters for the United States at the World Baseball Classic, testing whether his 43-year-old body can withstand another major-league season.

Roger Clemens
Clemens

Clemens, who led the majors in ERA last year, was among 30 players chosen Tuesday for the U.S. roster. He made his decision to play for the Americans only after he spent some time working out.

"I needed a couple of weeks to see where my body was going to be and get my mind right for this," Clemens said. "My arm feels good. My legs are taking a little bit longer than I expected to get in shape for this."

Clemens pitched for his hometown Houston Astros the past two seasons, helping them reach the World Series for the first time last year. Back problems and a torn hamstring hampered the seven-time Cy Young Award winner late in the season and forced him out of the World Series opener after two innings. Under baseball's rules, he can't re-sign with Houston until May 1.

The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers have also expressed interest in signing the Rocket, and Clemens said he has met with several teams, without going into specifics. He would not respond to whether he met with Red Sox owner John Henry and team president Larry Lucchino.

"I had a number of teams come down once they heard I was getting ready for these world games," he said. "And they positioned themselves and told me what they thought, and so on and so forth. So I told them right now, like I have been expressing, was that I was getting ready for the world games. I'll see how that goes, how my body responds. I'll make my decisions accordingly, after the fact."

The 16-team tournament runs March 3-20. Randy Hendricks, Clemens' agent, has compared the pitcher's decision to a horse race.

"Like I said before, it is a five-horse race, with retirement in the lead," Hendricks said. "But I did not say the race was over. It is in the backstretch."

Last year was an emotional one for Clemens, whose mother died during the season. He said his decision about whether to sign with a major-league team would be based on "the same questions I have every year -- this year being a little bit larger because my mom's final wishes were, before she passed, she didn't want me to continue with this grind.

"I have that playing on my mind, and I know all the other scenarios that have been put forth right in front of me the last couple of weeks," he said.

Clemens was among four starters selected for a 14-man U.S. pitching staff, joined by Jake Peavy, Dontrelle Willis and C.C. Sabathia. Changes to the roster can be made through March 2, five days before the U.S. opener. A 10-man bullpen was chosen partly because of pitch-count limits.

Peavy is scheduled to start the opener against Mexico on March 7, with Willis to start the following day against Canada.

Clemens said U.S. players will be as motivated as those from other countries.

"Make no mistake about it, when we get second and third and there's one out, we're going to dial up a fastball that's quicker than we're normally throwing," he said. "It's not like spring training, where you can give up four, five runs."

The rest of the roster:

Relievers: Chad Cordero, Brian Fuentes, Todd Jones, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Scot Shields, Huston Street, Mike Timlin, Billy Wagner, Dan Wheeler

Catchers: Michael Barrett, Brian Schneider, Jason Varitek

Infielders: Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Derrek Lee, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Chase Utley, Michael Young

Outfielders: Johnny Damon, Jeff Francouer, Ken Griffey Jr., Matt Holliday, Vernon Wells, Randy Winn

Twenty-two players who were on the provisional 52-man roster were dropped. Among them were pitchers Jeremy Bonderman, Roy Halladay, Dan Haren, Tim Hudson, Brett Myers, Andy Pettitte, Ben Sheets, Al Leiter and Gary Majewski; catchers Paul Lo Duca, Joe Mauer and Chad Moeller; infielders Eric Chavez, Craig Counsell, Morgan Ensberg, Bill Hall, Jimmy Rollins and David Wright; and outfielders Lance Berkman, Barry Bonds, Carl Crawford and Luis Gonzalez.

Bonds and several others had withdrawn, citing their need to rehabilitate following injuries.