Clemens ready to start work with Astros
Agent proceeding as if The Rocket is retired
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens is ready to begin a personal services contract with the Astros next season, though he hasn't officially retired.
"He has done work before as if he were operating under the contract, but we agreed that if he played, the 10 years would start," Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, wrote in an e-mail to MLB.com. "I plan to start it on January 1, 2008. If he plays in 2008, then we would just move it back a year, like we have done in the past. He is not officially retiring.
"We are going to proceed as if he is retired, in terms of the Astros contract," Hendricks added. "He has already done work for the Astros in the past. I don't foresee a problem."
Maybe not a problem, but there was a least of bit of confusion on the part of the Astros.
Their understanding of the 10-year personal services contract Clemens agreed to in 2004 is that it would not begin until he officially retired as an active player.
"I believe it does," Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. said Wednesday. "When the contract was signed four years ago, we thought that would be the only year he'd pitch for us, and [the personal services contract] was part of [the] first-year contract. To my recollection, he has to be officially retired."
That is Houston general manager Ed Wade's understanding of the agreement as well.
"I would assume that would be the case, because you couldn't work for one club and still be employed by another, now whether or how free agency impacts that, I'm not sure," Wade said. "I'm pretty sure for him to be employed by one club he cannot be employed by another, but don't hold me to that. I'm not a lawyer. I've never had personal services systems before, and now I've got maybe the ultimate old-timers All-Star team."
Wade was referring to Clemens and other former Astros serving in similar capacities, such as Nolan Ryan, Jeff Bagwell and Enos Cabell.
Clemens, interviewed by a Houston television station at his annual charity golf tournament at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond, Texas, indicated his status is unchanged, though he is looking forward to working with Astros prospects in the future.
"What was it, [2004-05]? We worked real hard with Drayton to get the personal service contract that really a lot of people made a big deal of, and it wasn't that big a deal for me," Clemens told KRIV-TV. "It's important because I get to work with the young kids and work in the organization which I love to do.
"I am going to be doing the same things I've always done, whether it kicks in now or kicks in five years from now. Again, it's great that it was part of the contract way back when, but for me, it's great I get the opportunity because I get the opportunity to work with the kids and I get to be a part of an organization that I really love and that I have to come to know -- not only as a fan and a season-ticket holder, but as a player -- and now I get a chance to work with these guys."
McLane hadn't talked to Clemens or Hendricks on Wednesday, but they are expected to very soon.
"I have not had a chance to talk to either Roger or Alan Hendricks, who we usually talk to when we deal with Roger," McLane said. "I'm sure we will in the next few days."
Added Clemens: "To me, it's no different than telling you about retirement. It's great. I'm sure I'll visit with them before. If the Astros ask me to do anything at any point in time, I will obviously jump in with both feet and I love to do it."
Clemens will coach at the team's Elite Camp for prospects this winter.
"That's exciting for young pitchers," McLane said. "We're looking forward to it. We're anxious, if he's ready."
Wade also applauded Clemens' plans.
"I think any player willing to give back to the game in some capacity deserves to be applauded, whether it's a high-profile guy or a low-profile guy, whether it's somebody in a lucrative personal services arrangement or whether it's somebody after playing for a long time wants to come back to manage a ballclub," Wade said. "It's the only way our game will continue to get better."
Clemens, who owns a 354-184 career record, is eighth on the all-time victories list and first among active pitchers. In career strikeouts, he trails only Ryan.
The 45-year-old Clemens went 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 17 starts and one relief appearance for the Yankees in 2007. He was slowed by foot and elbow injuries this season, then hurt a hamstring and left in the third inning of his AL Division Series start against Cleveland.
Clemens' former Yankees teammate, Andy Pettitte, also was at the golf tournament, and he told KRIV he is no closer to making a decision on his future. What he is sure about is he will not cut corners just to play again.
"I won't play if it's going to mean trying to shortcut trying to get ready for the season," Pettitte told KRIV. "There's a time when I realize I won't be able to get ready for the season, and then there will be a situation where I won't play."
Pettitte hasn't given himself any concrete deadlines, but he says it will be difficult to return to the game if he hasn't made a decision by January.
"I am a realist, and I realize that come the first of the year I won't be able to prepare myself the way I need to prepare myself for a baseball season, and I won't do that if my mind hasn't changed or if I haven't felt it's something I want to do," Pettitte said. "The bottom line is I've spoken with the Yankees plenty of times -- just not real sure if I want to play or not. Like I said, I am going to play with them next year or I am going to be at home."
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Alyson Footer contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.