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No decision has been made

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Roger Clemens accepted the Astros' offer
of salary arbitration Saturday, meaning he will either play for
Houston next season or retire.

Clemens said last week that he was leaning toward retirement.
His agent, Randy Hendricks, said the seven-time Cy Young Award
winner probably will make his decision between Jan. 5-20.

If Clemens decides to play in 2005, the pitcher and the Astros
either will agree to a contract or his salary will be determined by
an arbitrator.

"It certainly makes a statement to us about how Roger feels
about the Houston Astros," new general manager Tim Purpura said.
"Our interest is sincere and we'd certainly love to have him
back."

By accepting the arbitration offer, the 42-year-old right-hander
is no longer a free agent and is considered a signed player on the
Astros' roster under baseball rules. He had a $5 million base
salary and earned a total of $6,825,000 last season, including
bonuses.

Clemens went 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 218 strikeouts, and his
salary likely would be at least double next year if he plays.

"If I had to decide today, I'd say I'm not playing," Clemens
said Thursday. "But I'm not saying that. My wife and family want
me to wait until after I take a vacation before I make a decision.
Three of my sons say there's no way they want me to come back and
one of them wants me to. But I think he just likes the buffets they
have at the games. So we'll have to see."

Clemens helped Houston come within one win of its first NL
pennant, wasting a lead against St. Louis in Game 7 of the NL
championship series.

"It's just a matter of whether he wants to crank it up," said
Hendricks, who interpreted Clemens' statements as meaning: "He
physically could do it but was mentally gassed."

Clemens won three Cy Youngs with Boston (1986-87, 1991), two
with Toronto (1997-98), one with the Yankees (2001) and one with
Houston (2004), becoming the oldest winner. He is the first player
to win BBWAA awards with four teams and the fourth to win Cy Youngs
in both leagues, joining Gaylord Perry, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.

With a 328-164 record, Clemens is 10th on the career wins list,
and his 4,317 strikeouts are second to Nolan Ryan's 5,714.

The Astros are still hoping to entice free-agent center fielder Carlos Beltran to return. This week, Clemens' close friend, Andy Pettitte, began throwing for the first time at Minute Maid since having surgery on his left elbow in August.

Pettitte threw about 30 pitches. He plans to throw about three times a week over the next month.

"Right now, it is just like baby steps," he said. "I've got no pain. If there was pain, I wouldn't be throwing."

Clemens said the future of Beltran and Pettitte might influence his decision.

"There's no doubt, the goals of the team will be a big part of the decision of what I will do," Clemens said. "I'm a season-ticket holder, so I'll be here whether I play or not."