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Clemens: I'm '99-percent retired'


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Clemens: I'm '99-percent retired'

Astros hurler keeping his options open for now

By Jim Molony / MLB.com



Roger Clemens finished the season in the top 10 in the league in wins, ERA, winning percentage, strikeouts and innings. (David J. Phillip/AP)


Roger Clemens said he is "99-percent retired," but the Houston right-hander is keeping that one percent chance he will come back in 2005 open for at least a few more weeks.


Just as he did last year, when Clemens left one percent open following his brief retiremement after a stellar run with the New York Yankees, the future Hall of Famer is keeping the door open for a return to the Astros for one more season.


"There's nothing yet, it's way too early to decide what I'm going to do," Clemens said Wednesday afternoon after participating in teammate Andy Pettitte's charity golf tournament in Deer Park, Texas. "I kind of know which way I'm heading but I'm going to take some time to talk things over with my family, so we'll wait and see. Ninety-nine, that's the way I'm leaning."


Clemens, who took the loss against St. Louis in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, hasn't watched much of the World Series since the Astros were eliminated. After that Game 7 loss, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa admitted he told his team before the game that for the Cardinals to beat the Astros in Game 7 they were going to have to beat the greatest competitor of all time.


"Tony did whisper that to me; I told him good luck," Clemens said. "I'm disappointed because I've had the taste of World Series and to get so close and not get there was very disappointing. I'm so far removed from the game since that game ended, watching my boy play to kind of get my mind off being upset at how the season ended so quickly. In Spring Training we were expecting to get in the World Series and I expected to do that even with the injuries."


Clemens has only seen "three or four innings" of the World Series but was happy for his former team, the Boston Red Sox, who are up three games to none and on the verge of their first world championship since 1918 on Wednesday night.


"I think it's their year, it's been 90 years and I hope they lock this one down," Clemens said. "All my friends from up north are calling me. They'll be happy for a day anyway, but they're not going to have anything to complain about anymore. You might see a smile for about a week in Boston and then they'll go back to being miserable.


"It's great for that city and great for baseball. There's nothing like playing baseball in the east. It's a lot of fun, it's a terrific city. I don't wish for them to lose the next two games but it would be kind of nice if they could clinch in Boston. Hopefully no one will get hurt."


Clemens, 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 33 regular-season starts for the Astros, is a strong contender for the Cy Young Award, an achievement he has won six times previously. The 10-time All-Star finished the season in the top 10 in the league in wins, ERA, winning percentage, strikeouts and innings.


The 42-year-old said whether he wins what would be an unprecedented seventh Cy Young will have no bearing on his decision.


"I don't even think [the decision] will be until January or February," Clemens said. "It's exciting in our household. My son [Koby] is fixing to make a decision on where he's going to play college baseball. I've been waiting for a long time for this to happen. We've got some big decisions to make in our house and he's leaning on Pops to help him move in the right direction."


By waiting until later to make his decision, Clemens will also have more time to see how the Astros address various personnel questions that could impact the team's chances of returning to the playoffs in 2005.


Among the questions are whether the Astros will be able to re-sign free agent center fielder Carlos Beltran and whether club option veterans like left fielder Craig Biggio and second baseman Jeff Kent are brought back for another run. The Astros are also expected to attempt to strengthen their bullpen this winter.


Yet Clemens said the club moves will not impact his decision.


"It matters to me as a [Houston Astros] season-ticket holder, I want to enjoy the games just like anybody else," Clemens said. "Hopefully we'll get a chance to court [beltran] and get him back in town. I'm going to work [Andy Pettitte's] butt off to get his arm better because I'm a season-ticket holder, and I want to get him back to where he's throwing that 93-mph cutter."


The Astros scored one of the best bargains in baseball when they signed Clemens to a one-year, $5 million contract in January. The club also secured the future Hall of Famer to a 10-year personal services contract to begin the year after he retires as a player.


Clemens was paid $1.5 million this season, with the $3.5 million balance payable in 2006. Clemens also cashed on an attendance clause that stipulated a $200,000 bonus once the Astros drew 2.8 million fans and additional $200,000 for each 100,000 fans up to 3.4 million. The Astros set a franchise attendance record of 3,087,872, meaning Clemens earned an additional $600,000 on top of his $5 million.


"It's been really nice, a fun run," Clemens said. "I can't tell you how many thank yous that are coming from the fans. It should be the other way around. The fans really gave us a lot of motivation and inspiration."


(If this is it.. Later Roger.. Congrats on a nice career and thank you for leaving baseball so we dont have to face u anymore)

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