Agent: Rocket considering Olympics

Agent: Rocket considering Olympics

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Roger Clemens may not play in the Major Leagues next season, but that doesn't mean he isn't going to play baseball.

Clemens, if healthy, would consider pitching for Team USA in the baseball tournament during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, one of his agents told MLB.com on Thursday night in response to an e-mail question.

"I think, if things fell into place and he felt good, he would be interested," said agent Randy Hendricks about the 45-year-old Clemens, who has won 354 Major League games and pitched part of the 2007 season for the Yankees. "He loves the idea of representing his country."

Clemens considered the prospect of pitching in the Olympics when he retired from the Yankees after the 2003 World Series. But Team USA was eliminated that fall by Mexico in the qualifying round, and it was not represented in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. This time around, the U.S. has already qualified.

Clemens then decided to come out of retirement, and he pitched for the Astros in 2004, '05 and part of '06.

The Rocket was a member of Team USA in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic, and he started the critical victory against South Africa that sent the U.S. into the second round of the tournament, where it was ultimately eliminated, again by Mexico.

Unlike the Classic, which was the first international baseball tournament to include big league players, the catch for the Olympics is that Clemens cannot be on the 25-man roster of any Major League club to be eligible, a factor that wouldn't be an issue if he retires.

The Olympic baseball team is composed of career Minor Leaguers, former Major Leaguers and players who are on the 40-man rosters of big league clubs. And players from the 40-man rosters make up Team USA right now, as it competes in the International Baseball Federation World Cup in Chinese Taipei.

Officials hope that the current team will form the nucleus of the Olympic squad that competes in Beijing next August. Under international rules, preliminary expanded rosters have to be filed no later than 60 days prior to the start of the event, with the final 25-man rosters determined just before the games begin.

The Beijing Olympics are the last scheduled right now to include baseball, which was dropped by the International Olympic Committee, beginning with the 2012 games in London. The IBAF, now headed by former YankeeNets executive Harvey Schiller, has been lobbying for the sport to be reinstated. And since one of the major points of contention has been the exclusion of Major League players from the tournament, Clemens' mere presence on the roster would have a significant political impact.

Clemens, though, finished the season with the Yankees nursing elbow and leg injuries, and he didn't pitch much for the last month of the regular season. He started Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Indians at Yankee Stadium -- New York's only win in the best-of-five series -- but he had to come out early in that game when he aggravated a hamstring injury.

Likewise in 2005, when Clemens was with the Astros, he had to come out of Game 1 of the World Series in Chicago early when he pulled a hamstring. The White Sox went on to sweep the series.

In the Olympic baseball tournament, which is played over the course of two weeks, Clemens would probably only have to make two starts: One late in pool play and another in the gold-medal game if the U.S. advances that far.

The U.S. has won the gold medal in baseball only once, in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. That club was led by former Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, the only man to skipper teams that won the World Series and the Olympic gold medal.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.