The 50-year-old pitcher could postpone his Hall of Fame candidacy by playing for a major-league team again.

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One fascinating aspect of Roger Clemens’ comeback with the Sugar Land Skeeters — one of great names this side of the Lansing Lugnuts — is the potential ramifications for his Hall of Fame candidacy.

If he only pitches for the Skeeters, an independent team, nothing will be affected. Clemens will still be on the ballot this winter when his five-year waiting period expires.

That would hold true even if he pitches for an affiliated minor-league team. Long ago, a player’s clock was reset if he returned to active playing at any level. Warren Spahn’s eligibility was pushed back three years when he came out of retirement to pitch three games for the Tulsa Oilers in 1967, two years after he last pitched in the majors for San Francisco.

But now, according to a Hall of Fame spokesman, the rule has changed.

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“Roger’s five-year waiting period restarts only on a major-league appearance,” said Brad Horn, the Hall of Fame’s senior director of communications and education, in an email. “Anything else (minor league, independent, even signing with a major-league team) does not force the restart until he appears in a game.”

And many people believe that is Clemens’ ultimate goal this season — to pitch for the Astros at age 50. Owner Jim Crane has said he’d be open to that under the right circumstances.

I can’t help but wonder if Clemens realizes that he has little chance to be elected next year, when so many players linked to steroids will be on the ballot (including Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa for the first time). Perhaps he feels he might have a better shot in five years, when attitudes toward such players might have softened.

Late heroics

When Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez broke a 3-3 tie with his 19th-inning home run on Sunday, he became the first major-leaguer to hit a homer in the 19th inning or later since Mike Cameron did so for the Mariners with his walkoff in the 19th against the Red Sox, on Aug. 1, 2000.

Only 20 players in history have done so, including one other with a Seattle team: Tommy Harper of the Pilots in the 20th inning at Sicks Stadium, also against the Red Sox, on July 27, 1969. The Pilots still lost, 5-3, because Boston had scored three in the top of the 20th.

Notes and quotes

• Rangers manager Ron Washington believes the A’s will be able to overcome the loss of pitcher Bartolo Colon, suspended for 50 games for a violation of MLB’s drug policy. The two teams are scheduled to meet seven times in the last 10 days of the season.

“Initially, it’ll affect them,” Washington told The Dallas Morning News. “He’s the veteran who’s been holding those young pitchers together. But they’ll get over it. Those guys right now, they’re oblivious to everything.”

• Here’s an indication of how bad things are going for the Twins, who are on pace for 95 losses after dropping 99 last year: No one from their projected starting rotation on opening day is on the 40-man roster. Jason Marquis was released, Francisco Liriano was traded, Carl Pavano and Scott Baker are on the 60-day disabled list, and Nick Blackburn was outrighted off the roster on Monday.

• Reliever Francisco Rodriguez of the Brewers is no longer wearing his trademark goggles when he pitches. He admitted that after a poor game in Philadelphia in late July, he forgot he had taken them off and placed them inside his glove.

“I was mad at myself and slammed my glove down,” he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “When I realized my goggles were in there, it was too late. The goggles broke. I just started wearing contacts after that. I see the same.”

Chipper Jones said Kris Medlen, who has pitched 20-1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, reminds him of Greg Maddux.

“He’s one of those guys that is pretty quiet, but he always walks around like maybe he knows something you don’t,” Jones told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s got Doggy’s kind of presence out there on the mound. He’s not a big guy, but he walks out there like ‘I know I can get you out.’ And he’s got a few different ways to do it.”

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or

On Twitter @StoneLarry

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