HOUSTON — Roger Clemens’ return to Major League Baseball became a little less theoretical and a little more realistic Friday night when Houston Astros owner Jim Crane said he would be open to the idea of Clemens pitching for the Astros this season.
“If it goes all right and he comes to us, we’ll talk to baseball about it at length,” Crane told FOX 26 Sports in Houston. “The only thing we don’t want to do is make it a publicity stunt. If we did it, I want to try and take it and turn it into a positive, which would be Roger’s doing it for the good of baseball. The extra proceeds on the game might go to the (Astros’) community charity deal to build (baseball) fields, do something positive out of it.”
Clemens, who is 50 years old and five years removed from his last big league game, pitched 3-1/3 scoreless innings for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters on Saturday night. His fastball was recently clocked at 87 miles per hour.
Crane said Clemens has not approached the Astros about playing for them this season, though Clemens, a Houston native, does have a personal services contract with the club.
In a news conference earlier this week in Sugar Land, Texas, Clemens said his debut with the Skeeters was “just for fun,” though he also added he would “never close the door on the Astros.”
The Rocket remains hugely popular in his hometown, even after a trial in which he was found not guilty on six counts of perjury and false statements after being accused of lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs. The possibility of a Clemens appearance would create a strong possibility of a sellout at Minute Maid Park, where the Astros rank 27th in MLB attendance, drawing 21,140 per game.
“I think the fans might like it,” Crane said. “It might be fun and certainly get a few people in the ballpark. I don’t see anything negative about that, but the Astros wouldn’t want to do it for the money, the extra gate or anything like that.”
Before signing Clemens to a player’s contract, the Astros would seek approval from Major League Baseball, Crane said.