It was not Roger Clemens. But The Rocket soon could be pitching for the Astros again.
Clemens, 50, will return to professional baseball on Saturday night when he starts for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.
Clemens, the Houston-area resident who pitched for the Astros from 2004-06 and has a 10-year personal- services contract with the organization, has not said if he is planning a major-league comeback.
But Astros owner Jim Crane opened the door on Thursday when he told a Houston TV station: "There are a lot of issues to consider, but I'm not ruling it out."
The Astros will have a scout at Saturday night's game, but Clemens is free to sign with any team. The two-time Yankee probably won't be returning to the Bronx. When asked if the team would be sending a scout to Sugar Land, a Yankees talent evaluator told Newsday's Jim Baumbach, "That would be crazy."
The Astros went into Friday with a major league- worst 39-86 record and could use the attendance boost a Clemens home start would bring. But Crane said he wouldn't want to do it for that reason and would donate the proceeds to the team's charity.
"The only thing we don't want to do is make it a publicity stunt," he said. "I think the fans might like it. It might be fun and certainly get a few people in the ballpark. I don't see anything negative about that, but the Astros wouldn't want to do it for the money, the extra gate or anything like that."