Clemens visits Rangers camp

Clemens visits, hears Rangers' pitch

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Roger Clemens spent about 75 minutes at the Rangers' camp Thursday.

They would like for him to spend about five months in the Rangers' rotation this season.

Clemens, who is in Arizona with Team USA for the World Baseball Classic, drove to the Rangers' spring complex, met with the players in the clubhouse and visited with owner Tom Hicks, general manager Jon Daniels and manager Buck Showalter. Clemens was also accompanied by his agents, the Hendricks brothers, Alan and Randy.

"We're recruiting him," Hicks said. "We'd like him to make a decision to come here. If he decides he wants to keep competing, we think the Texas Rangers offer a great option for him because we've got great hitters and we're close to home."

Clemens, who lives in Houston, has not yet decided on whether he will pitch after the Classic. At age 43, he is contemplating retirement.

"Can I challenge myself mentally again to get ready and do this and then, once I get there, challenge my teammates to step up and win?" Clemens said. "I'm not coming back to wave any flags and shake hands. I'm coming back to win. That's the bottom line."

If Clemens decides to pitch this summer, he has narrowed it down to four clubs -- the Rangers, Astros, Red Sox and Yankees.

"If he does play, it will be no disrespect for the three teams he didn't pick," Randy Hendricks said. "We've had a lot of teams that it is not fair to even disengage in discussions. These [four] are all natural. You have two Texas teams. You have two teams he played great parts of his career. He loved the competition in the American League East. The Rangers want to win. You have a proactive owner. You could have a lot of things going here. I think this is a good sign of respect and appreciation for the Rangers' interest in Roger."

Clemens said he does not plan to make a decision before April 1 on where he would pitch if he decides to pitch.

"I don't know what is going to happen in the next couple of months," he said. "I made a commitment to this United States team, so obviously I don't want to bow out in this first round. I did a lot of road work and a lot of work in the weight room and behind the scenes to come here and pitch three innings. I had my mind set on maybe a start in Anaheim to get to the final round and maybe a start in the championship game. That's what I've got my sights on.

"After that, I might take a deep breath and kick back. I'll talk it over with the family and we'll decide to see what happens, if my body can handle it."

Clemens is unlikely to be in any Major League rotation in April or May if he decides to continue pitching.

"If he decides to play, the middle of the season," Alan Hendricks said of Clemens' probable return date. "I think he just needs time."

Said Hicks, "I'd love for him to play baseball by Opening Day. That is not likely to happen. From what we are hearing, it is probably June. I don't think Roger knows yet."

With Clemens wanting to play for a playoff-contending club, a good start might help sway his decision on where he signs.

"That may play into it, but you can't really factor that in," Clemens said. "Look at the situation I was in the last two years at home in Houston. We were dead in the water and came back to win [a playoff spot].

"I'm in a pretty fortunate situation. First of all, I'm kind of writing my own ticket as far as being able to shut it down when 10, 15 years ago, somebody was telling me I was done. Second of all, all four of these teams that Randy and Alan have made mention to me, I believe they all are going to be in the playoffs, that they all have a chance to win and win it all. I like all four cities. That's all I can tell you."

Do the Rangers feel more of a need to start strong to prove to Clemens they could be a playing in October?

"You always want to get off to a good start in any division, especially ours," Showalter said. "You'd hate to think that is the only reason, but certainly it might be a byproduct of it."

Said Daniels, "We want to win our division. There is no other motivation for us to try to get off to a good start than that. One of the things Roger pointed out is that Houston got off to less than ideal starts the last couple of years and rebounded and got deep into the playoffs. I don't think that is going to be a major deciding factor for him. We're going to go about business as we would otherwise."

The Rangers do not yet have a contract on the table to Clemens.

"We talked parameters, but we're not at that stage yet," Daniels said.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.