Roger Clemens' impressive outing with the Sugar Land Skeeters did not go unnoticed by the hometown Major League club.
Scouts from the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals were on hand to watch Clemens pitch 3 1/3 scoreless innings for the Skeeters in independent Atlantic League action.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow shared his thoughts of the outing with Zachar Levine of the Houston Chronicle.
“He looked good,” Luhnow said. “He certainly can compete at that independent ball level. We’ll see how he feels after doing that yesterday, but he certainly is impressive given the fact that he hasn’t pitched in so many years and with his age.”
There is no definite next move. Owner Jim Crane has repeatedly laid out his openness to bringing the seven-time Cy Young winner and controversial figure back to the Astros, but Luhnow hasn’t spoken with Clemens.
“I don’t know what he intends to do,” Luhnow said. “I think a lot of that will have to do with how he feels after (Saturday). Recovery time is probably a little different for somebody who hasn’t pitched in so long.
The Royals, on the other hand, aren't so hot on Clemens. GM Dayton Moore told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel that senior pitching staff advisor Bill Fisher and scout Ron Toenjes were on hand because Fisher is an old friend of Clemens.
"He wasn't sent there to scout the game. He was sent there to be along with Fish, and that's all," Moore said.
Moore pointed out that Fischer was Clemens' pitching coach early in his Major League career with Boston (1985-1991) and that the pitcher invited him to come down and be part of his return. Fischer sat with Clemens in the dugout.
"Fish called me last night to say thanks for allowing him to go down there and what a great time it was," Moore said. "I don't even know how Roger threw, I didn't even ask him about that."
It was the 50-year-old's first professional start since the 2007 season. He told reporters that he will wait to see how he feels a few days before deciding if he'll pitch again. Some baseball observers believe Clemens' return could lead to a major league comeback -- likely with the Astros -- that would delay his eligibility for Hall of Fame consideration. It is widely believed that Clemens would not be voted into the next HOF class after the Mitchell Report identified him as a steroids user. Clemens was acquitted of lying to Congress regarding his steroids testimony.