SUGAR LAND, Texas — Roger Clemens was back on the mound at age 50, striking out hitters again.
Pitching for the first time in five years, Clemens tossed 3 1-3 scoreless innings Saturday night for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.
Despite his success, Clemens said the outing didn’t make him contemplate a return to the majors.
“No, it doesn’t,” Clemens said. “I’ve had success before at that level and other things. Again, it’s a great deal of work and I’m not thinking that at this point.”
“I think it will fuel that speculation,” Royals pro scout Ron Toenjes said after watching the performance. “I just don’t know what will happen. I don’t think anyone does.”
Sugar Land manager Gary Gaetti, a two-time All-Star third baseman with Minnesota, said he was impressed by Clemens‘ outing after such a long layoff. He admitted before the game he was a bit concerned about how things would go because of Clemens‘ age and time off.
“He did a great job,” Gaetti said. “He really did.”
Clemens certainly was happy to be back on a diamond instead of in a courtroom. In June, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner was acquitted of charges he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens, who last pitched for the New York Yankees in 2007, worked a 1-2-3 first inning and fanned two. His fastball was clocked at 88 mph, and he mixed in curves and splitters. He finished with four groundouts and four flyouts.
Toenjes liked what he saw.
“The thing that I was impressed with is you have a 50-year-old man out there throwing 87-88 (mph) most of the night, and he’s got a real good splitter,” he said. “His command wasn’t as good as it could have been, but that it was a good, hard splitter, which is what you wanted to see.”
Wearing the No. 21 that he sported during his rise to fame with Boston nearly three decades ago, Clemens got a big cheer when he took the mound.