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Clemens, 50, joins independent league

August 21, 2012
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By Kristie Rieken Associated Press

HOUSTON — Roger Clemens isn’t done with baseball quite yet.

The 50-year-old former Red Sox ace signed with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League Monday and he is expected to start for the team in Texas Saturday against Bridgeport.

‘‘His fastball was clocked at 87 m.p.h.; all of his pitches were working,’’ said Randy Hendricks, Clemens’s agent. ‘‘He threw a three-inning simulated game after an extensive workout warm-up.’’

Clemens and Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti have been talking about this ‘‘for months,’’ Hendricks said. Clemens is expected to discuss his decision Tuesday during a news conference in Sugar Land, about 20 miles southwest of Houston.

Clemens, who was acquitted in June of charges he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs, hasn’t played for a team since pitching for the Yankees in 2007 at the age of 45. He went 6-6 in 18 games with a 4.18 ERA that season.

Texas Rangers pitcher Roy Oswalt, a former teammate of Clemens with the Astros, is excited about his friend’s return.

‘‘I think he’s going to show everybody that all that stuff that he had to go through had nothing to do with the success he had in the big leagues,’’ Oswalt said. ‘‘He said he’s going to do it a little bit and see how his body responds. I wouldn’t be surprised next year if he’s pitching in the big leagues for somebody.’’

Clemens earned $160 million and won 354 games in a 24-year career with the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Astros. His 4,672 strikeouts are third most in history and he was named to 11 All-Star Games.

Now he'll see what he has left for the Skeeters. He joins a roster that includes former major leaguer pitchers Tim Redding and Scott Kazmir, and Jason Lane, an outfielder on Houston’s 2005 World Series team that Clemens pitched for.

It isn’t clear how long Clemens will pitch for the Skeeters.

‘‘This is a one game at a time thing,’’ Hendricks said. ‘‘Let’s see how he does on Saturday.’’

Clemens is set to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot going to voters late this year; if he appears in a major league game his Hall consideration would be pushed back five years.

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