SUGAR LAND, Texas -- Roger Clemens says his return to baseball with the Sugar Land Skeeters is to have some fun and the "wouldn’t even consider thinking that far ahead" to a possible return to the major leagues.
The 50-year-old Clemens signed with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League on Monday and he is expected to start for the minor league team on Saturday at home against Bridgeport.
He isn’t committing to playing more than one game for the Skeeters, saying he wants to see how Saturday goes first.
"His fastball was clocked at 87 mph; all of his pitches were working," Randy Hendricks, Clemens’ agent, said Thursday. "He threw a three-inning simulated game after an extensive workout warm-up."
Clemens and Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti have been talking about this "for months," according to Hendricks.
Skeeters Catcher Octavio Martinez said he was surprised by the news and he's very excited about playing with the legendary "Rocket."
Saturday's game is already sold out. The Skeeters say their web site crashed Monday after fans began hearing the news about Clemens.
Clemens hasn’t played for a team since pitching for the Yankees in 2007 at the age of 45. He went 6-6 in 18 games with a 4.18 ERA that season.
Clemens had two great seasons with the Astros after he turned 40, going 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 2004 to win his record-tying seventh Cy Young Award. He was 13-8 with a career-low 1.87 ERA in 2005.
Clemens earned $160 million and won 354 games in a 24-year career with the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays and Astros. His 4,672 strikeouts are third-most all-time and he was named to 11 All-Star games.
Clemens joins a roster that includes former major league pitchers Tim Redding and Scott Kazmir and Jason Lane, a teammate of Clemens’ on Houston’s 2005 World Series team.
It isn’t clear how long Clemens will pitch for the Skeeters.
Clemens is set to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot going to voters late this year. If he appeared in a major league game his Hall consideration would be pushed back five years.
Clemens was accused of using steroids and HGH in the Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball. He appeared at a congressional deposition where he denied using any performance-enhancing drugs. The Justice Department began an investigation concerning whether Clemens had lied under oath, and in 2010 a grand jury indicted him on two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress when he testified.
He was acquitted of all the charges on June 19 after a 10-week trial and has largely stayed out of the public spotlight until now.