Owner says Astros considering Clemens
Club sending scouts to monitor Saturday start for independent team
HOUSTON -- Astros owner Jim Crane said he's open to the idea of Roger Clemens returning to the Major Leagues for his team this season.
"I think the fans might like it," Crane told Mark Berman of KRIV-TV in Houston. "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."
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is sending a scout to watch Clemens on Saturday night when he makes a start for the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent team. Fans can watch Clemens' start on ESPN.com at 8 p.m. ET.
Clemens, 50, hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues in five years and said he hasn't thought past the Saturday start.
Crane said that Clemens hadn't approached the Astros about a return to the Major Leagues, but he made it sound like that was a mere formality.
He told KRIV that his staff had begun preparing for the possibility of Clemens pitching for the Astros.
With the Astros' well-documented on-the-field struggles as the team rebuilds from the ground up, Crane said he didn't want a Clemens return to be viewed as 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," Crane said. "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 was one of 89 players named in the December 2007 Mitchell Report on baseball's relationship with performance-enhancing substances.
One of former senator George Mitchell's recommendations was that players named in the Mitchell report not be punished.
None of them has been, and MLB officials indicated on Friday that the decision on signing Clemens would be Crane's.
Clemens earlier this year was acquitted of felony perjury charges in connection with his testimony in front of a Congressional committee.
Clemens has a personal services contract with the Astros, and Crane has been open about wanting him to be part of the franchise.
"What we're interested in, we've talked to him about, is teaching our young pitchers," Crane told Berman, "not necessarily taking a full-time coach [role], but working with them consistently, the young guys, and that's what I've talked to him about at length, is starting next year, is getting a lot of our young prospects in [and] giving them the mentality and the work ethic and the training. There's a double-edged sword. I think if we were able to let him [pitch], we'd want to blend that in.
"We've already got him under contract too. There are a lot of issues to consider, but I'm not ruling it out. The other thing is if we don't do it, you know what, somebody else is going to do it. If he wants to pitch somebody else is going to do it."
The Astros have two homestands in September. Beginning on Sept. 10, they play the Cubs three times and the Phillies four times. On Sept. 21, they start a six-game series, with three apiece against the Cubs and Cards.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.