CHICAGO -- The Cubs still have six games remaining against the Astros, and there is a remote chance they could face Roger Clemens -- who was starting for the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent league team, on Saturday.
"I'm almost 50 and I couldn't imagine getting on a mound trying to get anybody out, let alone independent [league] hitters," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum, 48. "Whether it's the passion for the game, which is still there, or maybe he feels he's in good enough shape to at least compete and get Major League hitters out someday.
"If you're capable of doing it, [why not?] -- I'd still love to go out there and put a uniform on and think I could hit a Major League pitcher, too. But I know those days are long gone. It's one of those things -- if your body allows you to do it and you think you can do it, [then do it]. He's got the smarts and mechanics to be able to spot the ball, even though he's not going to be throwing 95 [mph]."
Did Sveum have much success against Clemens?
"Not so much," said Sveum, who was 2-for-24 (.083) with 12 strikeouts.
Cubs coach Pat Listach saw Clemens training in Puerto Rico this winter with his family while his son was playing in the Winter League.
"He's probably the fiercest competitor I've played against -- one of the fiercest," Listach said. "I'm not surprised at all. I don't know if he's Major League ready, but I'm not surprised."
So, 50 is the new 30?
"Jamie Moyer did it," Listach said. "I don't know why Roger couldn't. They're both in great shape."
Raley recalled for Saturday start vs. Rox
CHICAGO -- Brooks Raley was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Saturday to start for the Cubs against the Rockies. Chris Rusin was optioned to the Minor League team, but most likely will be back when rosters expand on Sept. 1.
Rusin made one start on Tuesday against the Brewers, and gave up one run on one hit over five innings.
"He can make the ball do a lot of things," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Rusin. "He has a plus changeup and keeps the ball down. You'd like to see him in another environment where it isn't his first start, too, where all the jitters are gone and all that. He'll be the first to say his command wasn't the greatest, but he battled back and got back into counts -- and made the pitches and kept the ball on the ground when he had to. He's definitely a guy you want to see more of."
Saturday was Raley's fourth big league start. He picked up his first Major League win in his last outing on Aug. 18 against the Reds.
While Rusin was expected back on Sept. 1, Sveum said the Cubs wouldn't add too many others. Most of the top Minor League players are already on the roster.
"I think it'll be just enough to help us out in September to where we can do some things roster-wise in the game and pinch-hit," Sveum said. "We're not going to bring 15 guys up or anything like that.
"Most of them are here anyway. There are some guys coming back from injuries who we still want to take looks at."
That would probably include right-hander Blake Parker, who has been rehabbing at Iowa from a stress reaction in his right elbow.
Cubs noticing improvement from Jackson
CHICAGO -- Brett Jackson still has more strikeouts than hits, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum is seeing progress from the young center fielder.
On Friday, Jackson hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning to help the Cubs beat the Rockies, 5-3. It was his second home run, and first at Wrigley Field. On Saturday, he belted a two-run shot in the fourth, and posted his first multi-RBI game in the Cubs' 4-3 loss to the Rockies. Seven of his 12 hits have gone for extra bases.
"Those are building blocks," Sveum said on Saturday. "A lot of guys have to understand when they have these struggles or whatever, that there's always that last at-bat when you can win a baseball game or tie it.
"It's no fun to strike out, which is one the lowest emotions we can have in this game. But there's no better emotion when you hit a home run like that, either."
Jackson is batting .197 with 31 strikeouts through 18 games.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.