Clemens ready to return, but only to face contender

The SportsXchange

The only roadblock between Roger Clemens' return to the big leagues this season is Astros owner Jim Crane.

Clemens and Crane have discussed having the 50-year-old make a start for Houston this season, but they aren't on the same page on the ideal terms under which he'd get back on the mound.

Crane did not rule out the possibility of Clemens pitching for the Astros this season, but said the Astros would not use Clemens in a game a team in playoff contention as Clemens insists would be necessary to prod him out of retirement.

Asked whether Clemens might pitch at home in two weeks against the Pirates or Cardinals, both of whom are in the wild-card chase, Crane told the Chronicle, "I don't think we would consider that. I think if we did that, it would not be against a contender."

Clemens suggested that the only way he would consider pitching for the Astros this season is if it were against a contending team.

"I can tell you right now and they would know too, that if I was going to go do it, I am going to pitch against a contender, that's who I want to knock out," Clemens told Houston's KRIV-TV. "Why would I want to waste my time running around and getting in shape? I get over to Minute Maid (Park), I'll crank it up and get it over 90 for a contender. We'll knock them right out of the playoffs. That would be the fun. Pitching against somebody that's not in contention wouldn't be any fun for me."

Responding in a text message sent to the Houston Chronicle regarding Crane's comments, Clemens said in a text message, "If you were going to do it ... wouldn't you want to do it against a contender and knock the contender off?"

Clemens added a smile symbol and said, "Nothing's cooking, but if there was wouldn't that be the only way to go?"

Clemens, 50, pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings on Aug. 25 and 4 2/3 scoreless innings Friday, both for the Sugar Land Skeeters.
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