01/31/07 9:43 PM ET
Clemens craves October run
Righty says missing playoffs would be a waste
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Clemens said that part of the difficulty in deciding whether to pitch lies within his own personal standards. He believes he can handle the physical stress of another Major League season, but the mental aspect is more daunting.For a potential playoff contender, there would be no mulligans offered just because of Clemens' advanced age or his late start to the year. "Mentally, I beat myself up to perform," Clemens said. "Once I do sign a contract to continue to play, they don't care how old I am. They want results, and I want results also." Forget the devastating splitfinger, at least for the moment. As of late, Clemens' Hall of Fame-bound right arm has been used only to lob hit-me fastballs about 60 feet, six inches. On Monday and Tuesday, Clemens pitched 45 sweat-soaked minutes of batting practice to Astros Minor Leaguers -- including his son, Koby -- at Houston's Minute Maid Park. Clemens plans on being in Spring Training with the Astros, part of a personal services contract with the club that he is honoring, and is keeping up with the winter movements of all three teams that he would pitch for. Beyond that, Clemens knows that there is a very strong possibility that injuries could prompt his telephone to ring in May. But Clemens said he has no intention of pitching that early. "I think all three clubs are planning on winning, with or without me," Clemens said. "But if somebody goes down and I'm feeling good, I don't know what my decision is going to be yet. "I hope that they all get off to a great start and I can just fade away, and come and watch some ballgames up here [in New York]. I don't think it's going to happen." Saying that he believes he can still pitch at a high level, Clemens said his decision to walk away would likely be much easier if not for the phone calls he has received from teammates in New York, Houston and Boston, all urging him to come back for one more year. "I wish it was an easy decision. I'm failing at retirement," Clemens said. "Let's just face it; I'm failing miserably at it."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.