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Roger Clemens' next start will be against Long Island Ducks

Sugar Land Skeeters' Roger Clemens, left, throws a

Sugar Land Skeeters' Roger Clemens, left, throws a pitch to Bridgeport Bluefish's Luis Rodriguez, right, during a baseball game in the independent Atlantic League. (Aug. 25, 2012) Credit: AP

The Rocket will relaunch in T-minus seven days, and this time the opponent will be the Long Island Ducks.

The Sugar Land Skeeters announced Thursday that Roger Clemens will make his second Atlantic League start a week from Friday in Texas against the Ducks in an 8:05 p.m. (EDT) game.

"I have the utmost respect for him," Ducks star Ray Navarrete said. "Unfortunately, he and other guys have been linked to [performance-enhancing drugs], but he was found innocent and he's never been suspended. I grew up watching him and he's one of the greats. That's the way I'm gonna see him when I step into the batter's box."

Clemens, with a fastball reaching 88 mph, threw 31/3 scoreless innings against the Bridgeport Bluefish on Aug. 25 in his Skeeters debut.

Word that the seven-time Cy Young Award-winner will pitch again broke late Wednesday night after Clemens, 50, texted the Houston Chronicle. "Looks like we'll be on the 7th," he wrote. The Skeeters confirmed that Thursday.

"It's going to be a Friday night game, so we're definitely selling out," Skeeters vice president Christopher Hill said. "This has been tremendous and Roger's bringing a lot of excitement to our organization."

"My first start with the Skeeters was a great deal of fun," Clemens said Thursday. "I'm looking forward to doing it again . . . Stay tuned, I might have a few more surprises to come with the Skeeters."

Clemens hasn't committed to pitching beyond this next start, Hill said, but he will travel with the team for a series against the York (Pa.) Revolution Monday through Thursday.

The Ducks' roster includes Armando Benitez and Timo Perez, former Mets who competed against the Yankees' Clemens in the 2000 World Series.

"To face a pitcher of his caliber will be a tremendous experience for our club," Ducks manager Kevin Baez said. "Roger had a great major-league career, and we're excited for the opportunity to play against him."

Clemens, who was alleged by the Mitchell Report in 2007 to have used performance-enhancing drugs and later was accused of the same by former trainer Brian McNamee, denied the allegations before Congress and was acquitted of perjury in June in a federal trial.

The right-hander was 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA during a 24-season career in the big leagues and, before this comeback, had last pitched professionally for the Yankees in 2007. He would be eligible for the Hall of Fame vote in December, though he hasn’t ruled out a return to the major leagues. Clemens currently ranks ninth all-time in wins, one behind Greg Maddux.

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