NEW YORK — If the struggling Houston Astros want to bring back Roger Clemens, interim manager Tony DeFrancesco would welcome the 50-year-old pitcher into his inexperienced clubhouse.
“I have nothing against Roger. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher and we can use maybe a guy with 300 wins, who knows?” DeFrancesco, 49, said Friday before his team played the New York Mets.
Clemens is scheduled to start Saturday night for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League against Bridgeport. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner has hinted he might have more in mind, leading to speculation that he’s aiming at a another comeback with his hometown Astros.
General manager Jeff Luhnow said this week the last-place Astros sent a scout to look at Clemens and left-hander Scott Kazmir, who also plays for the Skeeters.
“Yeah, I heard something to that effect. But there’s nothing that’s been told to me by the Astros,” DeFrancesco said. “I wish Roger the best. ... Roger’s very competitive and who knows where this is going to go?”
Two months ago, Clemens was acquitted of charges he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
Luhnow said he wasn’t sure whether Clemens was trying to make it back to the big leagues or just wanted to keep doing something he was very good at for a long time. The Rocket earned about $160 million and won 354 games in a 24-year career with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros. He hasn’t pitched since 2007 with the Yankees at age 45.
DeFrancesco managed Clemens’ son, Koby, at Triple-A Oklahoma City last season and said he repeatedly came across Clemens. DeFrancesco wasn’t surprised the right-hander still wants to pitch and believes he is serious about making it back to the majors.
Clemens is due to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, unless he plays in a big league game, which would push back the timetable five years.
After trading most of their established veterans for prospects this summer, the Astros began the day with the worst record in the majors at 39-86. DeFrancesco, who took over Sunday after Brad Mills was fired, was asked if bringing back Clemens might be just a publicity stunt.
“I haven’t heard that at all,” DeFrancesco said. “I mean, I think the only way we’re looking at it, we’re wishing Roger the best. I’m glad he’s in shape. Hopefully he can go out and compete. I’m sure he’s going to determine what direction he’s going.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.