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Roger Clemens on a big-league comeback: 'Not thinking that far ahead'

Roger Clemens holds up his new Sugar Land

Roger Clemens holds up his new Sugar Land Skeeters baseball jersey during a news conference officially announcing his signing with the team in Sugar Land, Texas. (Aug. 21, 2012) Credit: AP

Roger Clemens downplayed the possibility of returning to the majors at age 50, insisting that his latest -- and most surprising -- comeback is all about "having fun."

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was introduced Tuesday as the newest member of the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League, saying he's committed only to pitching Saturday night against the Bridgeport Bluefish.

What comes after that start, Clemens said, is the furthest thing from his mind.

"I've been to the major leagues and back a couple of times," he told reporters. "I've retired and unretired, so I wouldn't consider thinking that far ahead. I'm just going to try to get through Saturday. I think I can compete a little bit."

The longtime hard-throwing righthander said he has kept his arm in shape by throwing regularly in the two months since he was acquitted of federal perjury charges, including tossing batting practice to his son Koby's Double-A team last month.

Five years removed from his last major-league appearance, Clemens said he decided to go forward with the comeback -- his fifth since retiring in 2003 -- after visiting orthopedic surgeon James Andrews this summer.

"He said, 'The MRI looked great. Your shoulder looks like you're 30. You should go pitch -- just kidding,' " Clemens said.

The Skeeters, who play their home games not far from Clemens' house in Katy, Texas, signed the 354-game winner Monday after he threw a bullpen session for them in which his fastball topped out at 87 miles per hour, according to his agent, Randy Hendricks.

The Houston Astros reportedly also were present for the workout, but Clemens on Tuesday all but dismissed the possibility of pitching for his hometown team this season. He came out of retirement in 2004, '05 and '06 to pitch for the Astros, helping them make the World Series his second year there.

"I wouldn't consider myself anywhere close to major league-ready," he said.

Though a return to the majors at age 50 remains highly unlikely, it's not unprecedented. Earlier this season. Jamie Moyer pitched for the Colorado Rockies at age 49.

"People are trying to ingrain that in my mind that 50 is now the new 40," Clemens said when asked about Moyer. "But I'm not buying it because I'm still having to pack myself in a lot of ice."

If Clemens made at least one appearance in the majors this year, that would push his first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot back another five years. Otherwise, he'll appear for the first time this winter.

Hall of Fame voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America have thus far resisted electing any player accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, like Clemens was in baseball's Mitchell Report in 2007. But Clemens said that's not a reason why he's doing this.

"Sure, the Hall of Fame is great, I've told people that. But it's not going to change my life either way," he said. "But if there's something there that somebody feels like they have a grudge or want to hold something against you, I can't control that one bit."

New York Sports