Roger Clemens coaching Astros, planning to set record straight in new book

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Roger Clemens, despite last season's aborted comeback attempt, plans to stay retired. But in his mind, the Rocket has plenty of unfinished business off the field, and Clemens said Tuesday he is planning to write a book that will set the record straight about his career.

"There's a lot of stuff I'm going to write about one day -- and hopefully real soon," Clemens told Newsday at the Houston Astros' spring training complex. "I've got a couple of guys lined up to do it, to tell even more facts behind the scenes that you guys don't know.

"But there's no reason for me to plead my case in the media to guys that don't want to listen anyway or write the true facts. It's pointless. But I'll get to write about it, and what's good is some of my family is going to get to make comments, because that's people that it really hurt. And they know what's going on."

Clemens was referring to the accusations by former trainer Brian McNamee, whose claims that he injected him with steroids and human growth hormone led to Clemens being tried in federal court last year on obstruction of justice and perjury charges. He was acquitted in June of all counts, and other than expressing his relief afterward, Clemens has said very little about the case.

That changed Tuesday, when a conversation about the Hall of Fame veered into an assault on McNamee. By every statistical measure, Clemens should have been a first-ballot slam dunk for Cooperstown. Along with a record seven Cy Young Awards, Clemens is third on the all-time list in strikeouts (4,672) and ninth in wins (354).

But McNamee's accusations that Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs sabotaged his first shot on the ballot. Clemens received just 37.6 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, well short of the 75 percent needed for induction. Barry Bonds came in right below him with 36.2 percent.

Clemens insists he wasn't surprised by the outcome, but it's hard to believe he wasn't disappointed.

"I don't really," Clemens said. "Even leading up to (the vote). It's not something that's going to change my life either way. It's not a concern of mine. I'm not going to go around shaking your hand, introducing myself as a Hall of Famer. And it's not going to change how I know I worked, all the work that I did and my body of work.

"I can't control what people think. I went through the process and mainly did it to show somebody that was basically after my wallet that it wasn't going to happen."

The visibility of Clemens' case, which was built on McNamee as the pivotal witness, appears to have swayed the court of public opinion -- even if a federal jury was not convinced. That's the frustrating part for Clemens, as he, Bonds and Mike Piazza were the biggest names to be kept out of Cooperstown by either the cloud of PED suspicion or allegations.

"I think the only disservice there really is," Clemens said, "is you got a guy running around the country telling people he's my personal trainer and I've got six other guys that trained me, that were there day in and day out. I had very prominent guys and I'll write about them. I'll give them credit where credit is due."

For now, Clemens is welcome with the Astros, who will have him sporadically as a spring training instructor for the next six weeks and also use him to help with scouting once the season is under way. As a Houston native who pitched for the Astros for three seasons -- he teamed with Andy Pettitte to help get them to the World Series in 2005 -- Clemens remains immensely popular with the club.

The Astros, in the midst of a serious rebuilding effort in their first season in the American League, also could use a pitching resource of his pedigree with ties to the organization. They don't seem deterred by the same questions that worried some Cooperstown voters.

"(Owner) Jim Crane wants the Astros of the past that really had an influence on the team to be involved in the future," second-year general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "Not just putting their names in the media guide, but having an active role."

Clemens has embraced that role, speaking to the pitching staff before each of the first two workouts in sessions that Luhnow praised for his "passion, energy and technical know-how."

Evidently, Clemens has a lot more left to say. And he's only just begun saying it.

(Contact David Lennon at david.lennon@newsday.com.)