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Clemens offers no hints on future

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- There is the possibility he can spend all his days doing what he did yesterday -- play a round of golf under brilliant sunshine -- but Roger Clemens isn't ready to say he's retired from baseball.

Then again, he's not ready to say he's not.

"Physically, I think I can go another couple of years, but mentally? It's more of a challenge. I'm a power pitcher and if the ball isn't doing what you want it to do . . . We'll see," said Clemens, who played alongside Stuart Appleby in the pro-am for this week's season-opening PGA Tour event, the Mercedes Championship. "I would think if I decide to play I would know by the first of February."

If Clemens, 42, does return for a 22d major league season, he said, it would be in Houston and nowhere else. "I've painted myself into a corner," said Clemens, though he concedes that he's talked with Yankees manager Joe Torre, who spends a lot of his offseason in Hawaii.

Clemens wasn't surprised the Yankees refused to walk away after a three-team deal that would have landed them Randy Johnson fell through, and that the 41-year-old lefthander eventually was acquired, pending a contract extension. "They find a way to work things out," said Clemens.

He still speaks highly of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. "When you have an owner who wants to win as bad, or worse, than the players, it's great," said Clemens.

Does Clemens believe Pedro Martinez made a mistake by signing with the New York Mets?

"I can't answer that. You'd have to ask him," said Clemens. "Maybe he thought his job was complete [in Boston]. They won."

Clemens did suggest that players have to understand what it takes to achieve the ultimate team goal of winning a championship. "You have to have great pitching, not only a No. 1 guy, but you have to have a 2 and a 3 to win. I hope Pedro understood that when [Curt] Schilling came there."

Clemens said his decision for 2005 does not hinge on whether the Astros re-sign outfielder Carlos Beltran.

"Not really, but it makes us better," said Clemens, who went to the Astros because he has long called Houston home. "I'm a season ticket-holder, so [Beltran's] decision does affect me. I want to have a great team at home. We really set that town upside down this past season."

If the career is over, Clemens has a passion for golf and his family, and he has an unfilled dream.

"The neatest thing I want to do? I want to go to Fenway and I want to go to Yankee Stadium and sit in the stands and watch a game. I've never gotten a chance to do that."

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