Roger Clemens unretires, will start in independent league

The Houston Astros allowed 625 runs in their first 122 games this year, good for third-worst in the majors and one of the many, many reasons why Houston is, by leaps and bounds, the worst team in the majors. The team’s best starter, journeyman Wandy Rodriguez, no longer even pitches for the team.

The team’s shortcomings on the mound, which recently helped to lead to the firing of manager Brad Mills, naturally raise the question: Is there anybody out there who can give these guys a lift?

As of Tuesday, one potential (albeit far-fetched) answer to that question is: Roger Clemens.

The 50-year-old legend announced on Monday that he was returning to professional baseball after a five-year hiatus. The Texas native has inked a deal with the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League and is scheduled to make his debut at the team’s home stadium, which sits about 20 miles outside Houston, on Saturday.

“His fastball was clocked at 87 mph; all of his pitches were working,” said Randy Hendricks, Clemens’s agent (who is therefore paid to say such things). “He threw a three-inning simulated game after an extensive workout warm-up.”

The legendary fireballer won 354 games during a career that spanned three decades and four big-league teams, including a highly successful three-year stint with the Astros. And although he no longer possesses the velocity of yesteryear, his reputation is such that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow assigned a scout to Sugar Land to watch both Clemens and 28-year-old ex-phenom Scott Kazmir.

Even though his team is in desperate need of some quality pitching, Luhnow was quick to caution that Clemens had not pitched in the majors since 2007 and that he might not want to make a full-fledged comeback anyway.

“I don’t know what he’s trying to do,” Luhnow said. “I think he just wants to get back on the mound and see how it goes.”

Even the optimistic Hendricks had to agree with that.

“This is a one game at a time thing,” Hendricks said. “Let’s see how he does on Saturday.”