<b>Clemens brushes back son after giving up HR
43-year-old pitches to Astros minor-leaguers, still hasn't said if he'll return</b>
The Associated Press
Updated: 5:23 p.m. ET Feb. 27, 2006
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Roger Clemens’ son took dad deep on the Rocket’s first pitch of spring training, crushing a trademark fastball over the left-field fence Monday.
“That was probably one of the harder fastballs I cut loose,” Roger Clemens said after throwing to Koby and other Houston Astros minor-leaguers. “He got my attention.”
Then the Rocket got Koby’s. The next time his oldest son came to the plate, Roger buzzed him high and tight with another fastball. The younger Clemens dodged the pitch, then smiled at his father.
“He was like, ‘Sorry about that pitch inside. I was trying to change the view of the ball for you a little bit,’” said Koby, a third baseman who was drafted by Houston last summer. “I said, ‘I knew what you were doing.’ ”
Clemens, 43, got applause from about 100 fans as he walked to the mound behind the Astros’ minor-league complex. He threw 18 pitches from behind a screen before his 19-year-old son’s homer on his first pitch after the screen was moved away.
“I’m getting old,” Clemens said. “It happens.”
Clemens threw a total of 66 pitches to Astros’ minor-leaguers in preparation for the World Baseball Classic, then said he’s no closer to deciding his future beyond the event. Baseball officials approved the appearance.
Clemens led the major leagues with a 1.87 ERA last season and became a free agent when the NL champions didn’t offer him salary arbitration. He has said he’ll decide after the tournament whether he’ll play a 23rd season.
“If you asked me today, I’m doing the world baseball deal and (then) I’m going to go watch baseball,” Clemens said.
But asked if he was retiring, Clemens shied away.
“I’m not even going to mention that word,” Clemens said. “I’ve been trying to do that for a couple of years now and it’s not working.”
Clemens can’t re-sign with the Astros until May 1. But he could sign with another team before that and Boston, the New York Yankees and Texas have told Clemens they’re interested.
Clemens said he might put off a decision until midsummer.
“I don’t know what will happen down the road,” he said. “I might be sitting around in May, June, July and all of a sudden, I’m looking at three or four teams that came down to talk to me already and gave me their pitch.”
Koby Clemens said his dad was ready to retire in December, but his family talked him out of it.
“We were all like, ‘You should wait and allow yourself to rest your body,’ ” Koby said. “He was still kind of hurting, kind of tired. He was like, ‘I don’t want to do this again.’ ”
Many of the Astros expect Clemens to play for them again this season. Manager Phil Garner said Sunday he hasn’t asked Clemens about what he’ll do, but thought the Astros offered the best situation — a shortened season close to his family and his home.
“He knows how much we would like to have him back,” Garner said. “I think this is the perfect spot for him.”
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