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Roger Clemens, who lately has been a more frequent visitor at Fenway Park, said that, despite speculation of his return to the majors, he will not pitch for the Houston Astros this season or next.
“I threw the ball pretty well,” Clemens said of his two outings for the Sugarland Skeeters of the Atlantic League. “But I would need a lot of time to get ready for the major leagues. Mr. [Jim] Crane [Astros owner] and I discussed it, but I don’t believe I’ll be on the mound.”
Clemens, who looked as if he could make a start for the Red Sox Tuesday night, does have a personal services contract with the Astros. He likely will take a bigger role next season working with pitchers in spring training and the minor league system.
Clemens will be eligible for Hall of Fame voting for the first time in December. If he were to pitch in a major league game, he would not be on the ballot for an additional five years.
Clemens was accompanied by his son Koby, who played Double A ball in the Toronto system this season. He will be a minor league free agent and caught his dad’s last start for Sugarland.
Clemens said he had no idea whom the Astros would hire as the new manager. Tampa Bay bench coach Dave Martinez and Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar are finalists for the job, according to a major league source.
Clemens attended a tribute to Johnny Pesky Sunday night and will be honored on the All-Fenway team Wednesday. He is also busy as a partner with Nolan Ryan in the Round Rock and Corpus Christi minor league teams.
Rays win, 5-2
Boston’s best pitcher wasn’t on his game in Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Rays.
Clay Buchholz lasted six innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits while walking two and striking out five. He was outdueled by potential Cy Young winner David Price.
Buchholz said he didn’t have command of his pitches.
“Yeah, one of those nights,” he said. “I didn’t have a feel or command for pitches that I usually have had a feel for the last couple of months. I missed on the fastball a couple of times. Just one of those games.”
Buchholz realized it would be an uphill battle against Price, who struck out 13 in improving to 19-5.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Buchholz said. “Nobody expects these guys to put up eight runs. Runs are at a premium when that guy is pitching.”
Buchholz, 11-7 with a 4.22 ERA and a loser in his last four decisions, surrendered a homer to Jeff Keppinger after walking Evan Longoria and Luke Scott in the second inning.
In the sixth, Jose Molina drove in a run with a single that one-hopped the wall, another run scoring when Daniel Nava muffed the ball.
The Sox couldn’t turn a double play for Buchholz early on. In the second inning, third baseman Danny Valencia singled in a run but then got caught between first and second and got thrown out. In the third, Pedro Ciriaco got thrown out trying to steal third; the Sox scored a run on a Price balk later in the inning but could have had more.
Of his season overall, Buchholz said, “I’d be satisfied if I started the way I wanted to start. Numbers are how everyone determines if you had a good or bad year. I felt like I did a lot better than I thought I was gonna do after the rough start.”
Buchholz has pitched a career-high 187⅔ innings. He said he felt strong and had no signs of the sore back he experienced in his last start.
Role for Varitek
Former catcher Jason Varitek on his future role with the Red Sox: “I will be involved in some way. We’re just putting the finishing touches on something and we’ll have it finalized soon.” . . . Cody Ross said he has been taking ground balls at first base to increase his versatility for whatever team he signs with this offseason. Ross reiterated that he’d like to stay in Boston, and has said he will listen to a Red Sox offer before free agency begins five days after the World Series. As for first base, Ross said, “I think I could handle it.’’ . . . Zach Stewart, the righthander obtained in the Kevin Youkilis deal with the White Sox, threw a simulated game Tuesday afternoon at Fenway. He is expected to make a start in place of Daisuke Matsuzaka but didn’t have anywhere to throw a rehab start. Stewart’s one and only start with the Red Sox was horrific: three innings, 10 hits, and nine runs in a 10-3 loss to the Angels. Bobby Valentine didn’t want Stewart to end the season with that bad taste in his mouth. Stewart had gone 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 18 appearances with the White Sox . . . Daniel Bard also threw to hitters but had a blister develop and curtailed his throwing. Bard would also like to pitch more over the final week, and Valentine believes Bard should be able to leave the season building upon something positive for next season . . . Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been battling a lat strain, told Valentine he felt good enough to play, but the training staff felt one more day would benefit the center fielder. Ellsbury, hitting .293 against the AL East this season, has been out four games. The injury appeared to inhibit his throwing motion . . . Jarrod Saltalamacchia received the BoSox Club’s Man of the Year Award for his contributions on and off the field. He is considered one of the team’s top charitable contributors in terms of the time he gives to the community.