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Elite Camp would welcome Clemens

Elite Camp would welcome Clemens

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HOUSTON -- The Astros do not know if Roger Clemens will attend next week's mini-camp as a coach, but if he chooses to show up, the club plans to welcome him in.

General manager Ed Wade confirmed that he spoke with Clemens' agents last week to discuss Clemens' intentions when the annual Elite Camp begins Monday at Minute Maid Park.

"I talked to Alan Hendricks last week and asked him if he knew what Roger's plans were, and he said he's going to get back to me," Wade said. "He's welcome to be here."

As of late afternoon Tuesday, Clemens had not decided whether he will attend.

"He appreciates the Astros standing behind him throughout this ordeal," agent Randy Hendricks said via e-mail. "He would love to be there with the kids. Right now, he is assessing whether his appearance would be a distraction from the camp. He will decide later."

The Astros had briefly discussed excluding Clemens from the camp's coaching staff, but not because of a presumption of guilt following the release of the Mitchell Report. Their concern focused on potential distractions that could accompany the Rocket's presence at the ballpark, due to the crush of media that certainly would follow.

The Rocket's legal issues have occupied all of his time in the last few weeks as he continues to fight to clear his name after he was identified as a user of performance-enhancing drugs in the Mitchell Report.

Clemens, who has filed a defamation suit against his accuser, Brian McNamee, is scheduled to give a deposition to the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform on Saturday. He is also scheduled to appear before the same committee in a hearing on Feb. 13.

Wade reached out to the Hendricks to make sure they were aware of the media coverage the camp typically draws, and also to let them know season-ticket holders will be present in the seating areas in the lower bowl on the first day.

"The bottom line is to find out if he's going to be here," Wade said. "And he's welcome to be here."

Clemens, who has a personal-services contract with the club he'll start serving when he officially retires, has assisted in past years at the week-long camp, designed as a Spring Training warmup for the club's top pitching and hitting prospects. Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan heads up the pitching side, while Jeff Bagwell runs the hitting side.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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