Clemens 'failing at retirement'

NEW YORK - Roger Clemens talked about his plight and laughed.

"I'm failing at retirement," he said. "Let's just face it. I'm failing miserably at it."

The 44-year-old right-hander, unsure whether to retire or return for a 24th major league season, was the keynote speaker for the St. John's winter baseball banquet on Wednesday night.

If he does pitch - and it sounds as if he will - Clemens will choose among his hometown Houston Astros, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

"I think if it wasn't for more than a handful of phone calls from my teammates, not only my teammates here, but in Houston and the guys in Boston, I don't think I'd take it to heart as much," he said. "It would be real easy to step away and be done with it."

Clemens threw batting practice in Houston for the Astros this week, mostly to minor leaguers.

"I probably threw 45 minutes of BP on Monday and again on Tuesday," he said. "It's supposed to be good for your heart. I'd rather have a glass of wine."

Clemens didn't start his major league season last year until June 22. Plagued by poor run support, he went 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts.

This year, he might begin a few weeks earlier - but only a few weeks.

"None of the teams are interested in seeing me before May, and that's great," he said. "I don't have an interest in playing right now in May."

n Yankees offer Williams contract: Bernie Williams has a big decision ahead.

The New York Yankees have offered the former All-Star outfielder a minor league contract and an invite to spring training.

The offer was reported Wednesday on Sports Illustrated's Web site and confirmed by a baseball official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team didn't publicly disclose the offer.

"I'm waiting to hear from Bernie," Williams' agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday. "Once I talk to him, he'll let me know what he's thinking."

The 38-year-old Williams has been with the Yankees since 1991 and has expressed a desire to remain with them.

n AROUND THE HORN: A proposal to make Major League Baseball's "Extra Innings" exclusive to DirecTV has drawn the ire of Sen. John Kerry. The Massachusetts Democrat said he plans to raise the matter with the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission at a hearing today. New York Mets pitcher Dave Williams had surgery Wednesday to repair a herniated disk in his neck and it's unclear how long he could be sidelined.