DALLAS (AP) – A no-decision for Roger Clemens.

Clemens will file for free agency, but the seven-time Cy Young Award winner insists he hasn’t decided whether he will pitch for the Houston Astros or anyone else next year.

“Full season, half season or at all, I haven’t even thought about it,” Clemens said Thursday. “I just think it’s too early to think about it. … Right now, I don’t have any thoughts of playing or not playing.”

The 44-year-old Clemens didn’t say when he will make up his mind about a 23rd season in the majors.

If Clemens does come back, it will likely to be for Houston, the New York Yankees, Boston or Texas. Any team outside that quartet is unlikely.

“Probably not,” he said. “I don’t see myself going outside that situation.”

The Rocket went 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts last season with his hometown Astros, delaying the start of his season until late June.

Clemens was plagued by hamstring and groin injuries in 2005 and left Game 1 of the World Series after only two innings. Clemens said the abbreviated season this year made a huge difference.

“I feel great. If we were able to sneak in the side door into the playoffs this year, physically, I would have been much stronger. There’s no question about it,” Clemens said. “Mentally, I was not fatigued.”

Houston won 10 of its last 12 games to finish 82-80 and almost caught NL Central winner and World Series champion St. Louis.

Clemens is 348-178 lifetime with a 3.10 ERA. He ranks eighth all-time in career victories and his 4,604 strikeouts are second only behind Nolan Ryan.

Clemens, who spoke Thursday at an SMU athletic forum, said he has appeared at events this offseason with Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. The right-hander talked to both of them about retirement.

“Like my mother said, moss is never going to grow under my feet. I’m going to be moving around quite a bit,” he said. “If this past year was my final season, I’ll probably miss the competition. I’ll look for other ways to really get that competitive desire out in some shape or form. I don’t know how that would be.”

The Astros have provided Clemens the opportunity to be at home, and come and go as he pleases between starts. Clemens won his two World Series rings with the Yankees and started his career with the Red Sox, and both have remained interested in having him back.

“Every time I travel, I hear from the Red Sox fans, I hear from the Yankees’ point of view, and obviously I know my hometown situation,” Clemens said. “I have poured my heart out in every one of those cities I’ve played in. I’m really happy that I’m still being mentioned with those teams and associated with those teams.”

AP-ES-11-02-06 1557EST



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