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Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Rocket boost? Clemens says he's 'failing at retirement'

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Roger Clemens talked about his plight and laughed.

Roger Clemens
Clemens

"I'm failing at retirement," he said. "Let's just face it. I'm failing miserably at it."

The 44-year-old right-hander, unsure whether to retire or return for a 24th major league season, was the keynote speaker for the St. John's winter baseball banquet on Wednesday night.

If he does pitch -- and it sounds as if he will -- Clemens will choose among his hometown Houston Astros, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

"I think if it wasn't for more than a handful of phone calls from my teammates, not only my teammates here, but in Houston and the guys in Boston, I don't think I'd take it to heart as much," he said. "It would be real easy to step away and be done with it."

Clemens threw batting practice in Houston for the Astros this week, mostly to minor leaguers.

"I probably threw 45 minutes of BP on Monday and again on Tuesday," he said. "It's supposed to be good for your heart. I'd rather have a glass of wine."

Clemens didn't start his major league season last year until June 22. Plagued by poor run support, he went 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts.

"I probably threw 45 minutes of BP ... It's supposed to be good for your heart. I'd rather have a glass of wine."
--Roger Clemens

This year, he might begin a few weeks earlier -- but only a few weeks.

"None of the teams are interested in seeing me before May, and that's great," he said. "I don't have an interest in playing right now in May."

With 348 wins, seven Cy Young Awards, one MVP, 11 All-Star selections and two World Series titles, Clemens doesn't need to return for more accomplishments. He just enjoys winning.

"You put your body through a lot of punishment and then you come up one game short, like we did last year, for me it was a waste of time," he said. "When you don't have the opportunity to go to the playoffs and have a chance to win, it's a waste of time for me. At this stage and point in my life and career, that's all you're looking for."

Clemens spent the last three seasons with his hometown Astros following five years with the Yankees.

With Houston, he got to spend time on the field with his son, Koby, an Astros' minor leaguer. The Rocket didn't have to always be with the major league team on days he didn't pitch.

"It's been overstated, like I pitch and I'm never there," Clemens said. "When I'm not there, it's not the freedom of being home, I'm out working and doing the things I love to do. I'm usually with one of the other minor leagues in the organization, helping some young kid chase his dream."

Clemens planned to see some of his former Yankees teammates this week. He expects them to push for a return to pinstripes, following the example of close friend Andy Pettitte, who played alongside him in the Bronx and Houston.

"I'm sure they're going to be beating on me pretty hard," Clemens said.

He plans to travel from Houston to Yankee Stadium early in the season to watch Pettitte pitch. Already, he wants Pettitte to stay with the Yankees until at least 2009.

"He has to open that new stadium," Clemens said. "He just rolled his eyes at me on that one."

Not retired, not active, Clemens is a target for the Yankees, Astros and Red Sox. He is a coveted commodity in a twilight zone, the $22 million man without a team.

"I hope that they all get off to a great start and I can just fade away and come and watch some ballgames up here," Clemens said. "I don't think that's going to happen."