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Clemens issues cryptic statement

by Stephen Ellsesser

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Roger Clemens’ muddy future may have cleared up a little bit after Thursday’s 2-1 World Baseball Classic loss to Mexico.

Clemens didn’t talk to print media after the loss, in which he gave up two runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings of work, but he released a potentially telling statement.

“They got to see the competitive side of my nature, and for me, right now, it’s goodbye,” he said.

Clemens, 43, cannot re-sign with his former team, the Houston Astros, until May 1, but he has talked with representatives from other teams, including the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, both of which he has also played for, and the Texas Rangers.

Last week during WBC action in Arizona, Clemens went to Surprise, Ariz., to the Rangers’ training facility to visit. Clemens said he was paying his respects to the organization.

Team USA manager Buck Martinez doesn’t think fans have seen the last of the Rocket.

“Quite honestly, I haven’t thought about (the WBC) being the last game of Roger Clemens because I think he is performing at a high level, and I’m not speaking with any inside information here,” Martinez said. “I’m just a baseball guy watching him pitch, and I expect him to go beyond (the WBC).”

IFS AND BUTS: Barry Bonds was ready to suit up for Team USA.

Bonds, in another fresh firestorm of steroid-abuse speculation after excerpts of two books recently were released, had been rumored to join Team USA for the semifinals in San Diego after backing out of the World Baseball Classic last month.

Team USA was eliminated, so he never got a chance.

“As far as the roster,” Martinez said, referring to the Bonds situation, “Obviously we have continued to have informal talks. Nobody has reached out to anybody at this point. My understanding is that we don’t have to set our roster until two hours before the game Saturday.”