The Astros were watching Roger Clemens’ workout

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UPDATE: Astros owner Jim Crane confirmed to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle that the club did see him throw today. However, he added that they have no plans to bring him back now and would check with MLB first if they ever do.

6:10 PM: A source told Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle that the Astros had scouting director Mike Elias watch Roger Clemens’ throwing session Monday before he signed with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters.

FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal points out that former Astros club president Tal Smith serves as a consultant with the Skeeters, and Rosenthal thinks it’s within the realm of possibility that Clemens could take the mound for Houston next month.

Such a comeback would reset Clemens’ Hall of Fame clock just a couple of months before he’ll be listed on the ballot for the first time. One wonders if that might be part of his motivation here, though; Clemens stands little chance of being elected on the first ballot as is, but push his timetable back another six years after the voters have declared their intentions with Barry Bonds and other suspected cheats and he may well have a better chance of going in immediately.

If Clemens does make it back to the majors, he’d be the game’s first 50-year-old since Minnie Minoso had a two-AB cameo at age 54 in 1980. No one over 50 has ever performed in the majors as anything more than a gimmick.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.