Clemens, Pettitte to file for free agency

Duo files for free agency

HOUSTON -- Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte said Tuesday they will file for free agency in the coming weeks but haven't decided whether they will return for the 2007 season.

The two pitchers participated in Clemens' annual charity golf tournament at Shadowhawk Golf Club in Sugar Land, Texas, on Tuesday. Both said they haven't made up their minds if they will play next season, let alone where.

Pettitte, 34, plans to take some more time off before making his decision.

"I know it's difficult maybe for people to understand," Pettitte said. "I'm just not sure if I want to play, so I'm just trying to take some time back. Obviously for me to feel that way, I have some serious burnout."

The left-hander has battled injuries in recent seasons. He was 14-13 with the Astros last season with a 4.20 ERA, including 8-4 with a 2.93 mark after the All-Star break.

"I know I'm young. I realize I'm young," Pettitte said. "Just right now, I don't know exactly what I want to do. I just need to take some good time away and I'm trying not to think about baseball. I didn't watch any of the playoffs. I'm just trying to spend time down at my ranch and spend time with my family, and in a couple of weeks I'll really try to bear down and [decide]."

Pettitte's comments surprised Clemens, but the seven-time Cy Young Award winner is equally uncertain about whether he will pitch again.

"I'd have to tell you I'm surprised about that with Andy," Clemens said. "I'm surprised a little bit. He's got a lot to give. He's still young. He's a competitor. It may or may not play into my decision, but I hope he plays. I have a lot of wishes for Andy. I want him to play here at home, because he's great and he can help this club win. I know he's had his ties to the Yankees, too. I'd love to see him knock down Whitey Ford's record as a left-hander."

Ford, a Hall of Famer, won 236 games in 16 seasons with the Yankees. Pettitte, 37-26 the last three seasons with Houston, won 149 games in nine seasons with the Yankees before joining the Astros. Pettitte's career record is 186-104.

"I know it's difficult, maybe, for people to understand. I'm just not sure if I want to play, so I'm just trying to take some time back. Obviously for me to feel that way, I have some serious burnout."
-- Andy Pettitte

Clemens, 44, went 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts for the Astros. In 113 2/3 innings, he struck out 102 and walked 29. The right-hander owns a career record of 348-178 with a 3.10 ERA. He ranks eighth all-time in career victories, second in strikeouts (4,604), 15th in innings pitched (4,817), seventh in games started (690) and 26th in shutouts (46).

As free agents, the pitchers would command plenty of attention from outside Houston as well as the Astros. Pettitte ranked seventh among all NL starting pitchers in the latest Elias rankings, while Clemens was 25th. The Rangers, Yankees, Astros and Red Sox were among the four teams Clemens considered last winter before the 11-time All-Star signed a one-year, $22 million contract with the Astros in May.

"It's no different than my situation with Boston," Clemens said. "I understand the pleas and the talk that's going on in Beantown to come back and try and bookend my career. It's just a hard decision. When you have the season we have and you don't win and you have such a high ceiling as far as your expectations of winning, it's a tough grind.

"It's been a blessing to come home and do this. I also hear when Boston calls and when the Yankees have something to say. It's very flattering, but the ball goes into my court once I decide if I'm going to [play]. I know it's too early a question to ask me. But it's something Andy obviously doesn't want to talk about."

The two pitchers will be watching to see what offseason moves the Astros make, but that doesn't necessarily impact their decisions.

"We need a little help, there's no doubt about that," Clemens said. "It just depends on what's out there. I'm sure [Houston general manager] Tim [Purpura] is looking hard. That man works hard to try and find the best fit for our club and what's going to help us."

Jim Molony is a writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.