If he comes back, the 44-year-old pitching great said he'll
choose between the hometown Astros, the New York Yankees and Boston
"Everybody knows where I stand. I don't care to play, but if
that decision comes up again, then it's a big decision on me," he
said. "It has nothing to do with anybody else. It's a decision on
me to go out and perform."
Clemens said he's not "milking" his decision in search of the
highest bidder. He also said he'll have no problem walking away
when the time comes.
"It's 10 times harder to make the decision to come back and try
to do it again," he said. "I love what I do and I have high
expectations to perform. When I don't, it's disappointing."
Koby Clemens, a third baseman starting his second full season in
the Astros' minor league organization, said his father told him
last week he was "80-20" leaning toward not coming back. Then
again, after the 2003 season Clemens said there was a 99 percent
chance he would retire.
"It's a pretty serious number right now," said Koby, the
oldest of Clemens' four sons. "I go, 'Dad, right now, on the spot,
if they asked you are you coming back or not, what are your
percentages now?' He said, '80-20.' I go, 'Coming back or sitting
out the year?' And he goes, 'Probably sitting out the year.' That
Clemens is on an easier workout schedule now and won't increase
the load unless he commits to playing again.
Clemens caused a bigger stir at spring training last season,
pitching with more purpose to minor leaguers in preparation for the
World Baseball Classic.
"I feel very good, I feel strong," he said. "But the
intensity is nowhere near close to this point last year when I was
getting ready for the world event. I had a lot riding on my
Clemens said he'll work himself into shape if one of the teams
comes to his agents, Alan and Randy Hendricks, with an offer he
He's also realistic about his age, and that his body may not
respond like it once did.
"At one point, it's not going to work out," he said. "These
are the questions I have to ask myself, that's why I push myself so
hard to find out before I get to that moment.
"I don't know what's going to happen two months from now,"
Clemens said. "I could get into the middle of a training session
and know that I just can't do it. That would be the easiest call
for me to make."
On Thursday, he wore a black Astros cap, black Astros T-shirt
and white pants. He hit grounders to Koby and shagged balls in the
Clemens says he is content to hang around the spring training
complex and advise younger players. He'll also host some charity
events while in Florida.
"What you saw me do today is what I plan on doing for the next
month," he said. "Right now, it's going to be a slow, dead
period. I'm doing what I love to do. I'm going to be running around
here, throwing batting practice. I'll throw BP to the big guys if
they need it. There won't be a lot of moss growing under my feet."
Clemens, who signed a $22 million contract with the Astros to
pitch half of last season, didn't start in a major league game
until June 22. He finished 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts.
If he returns, Clemens said he won't pitch until at least May.
He said how the three teams are doing at that time won't affect his
But Clemens said he'll only come back if he feels like he can
help one of the teams contend.
"You come back to win, you come back to win it all," he said.
"Your goals are set really high. I feel very flattered that those
three teams still make an occasional phone call to the Hendricks
brothers to ask where I'm at."