It would appear that Roger Clemens hasn’t quite yet thrown his final pitch. Clemens, statistically one of the greatest right-handed pitchers in Major League Baseball history, will start Saturday for the Sugar Land Skeeters – an independent league team based outside of Houston, Texas. The team announced late Monday morning that they had signed the 50 year old Clemens to a contract after working him out earlier Monday morning. He was reportedly clocked at 87 MPH during a three inning simulated game that he threw for team representatives.
Clemens’ track record is one that doesn’t need much discussion. Seven Cy Young Awards. An MVP Award. 11 All Star game appearances. 354 wins. Six 20+ win seasons. 4,672 strikeouts.
But his last pitch in the Major Leagues came during the 2007 season. Clemens, now five years removed from pitching in the Majors, is scheduled to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot this coming December for the first time. Much has been talked about the impending decision that faces the Hall of Fame voters. As we all know, Clemens has been accused of using performance enhancing drugs throughout the latter half of his career. Those allegations* have tainted his legacy and left countless fans to “misremember” him as the great pitcher that he was.
* To be clear, he’s never been proven guilty of any wrong doing. There are no failed drug tests. There is no evidence that he violated any rules. Earlier this summer he was acquitted on all charges that he had obstructed justice and lied to Congress. Sure, he’s been found guilty by most people in the court of public opinion but that’s as far as it goes. Until I see evidence that tells me otherwise, however, he still ranks among the all-time greats in my opinion.
But for Clemens, the opportunity to pitch again was one that he apparently could not pass up. According to his agent, Randy Hendricks, Clemens may only pitch in the one game this weekend. No plans have been discussed as of yet for him to make any additional appearances beyond Saturday’s start. As Hendricks told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick:
It is a fun thing and let’s just see how he does Saturday night. That will determine if he pitches for them again.
The Skeeters are no stranger to former Major Leaguers. Former Houston Astros President and General Manager Tal Smith is an executive with the Skeeters. The team’s current manager is four-time Gold Glove winning third baseman Gary Gaetti, who played for six teams over a 20-year MLB career. Former MLB pitchers Scott Kazmir, Jason Lane, and Tim Redding have all pitched for the team at some point this season.
While the Skeeters were the only ones to formally offer Clemens a role with the team, they weren’t the only organization in attendance at his workout Monday. According to Zachary Levine of The Houston Chronicle (via MLBTR), Astros Scouting Director Mike Elias also attended the workouts, though he was just “doing his due diligence” and the team “has no current plans” to pursue signing Clemens. It would surprise few if he were to make an attempt at a Major League comeback but the idea, on its surface, does appear unlikely.