Roy O in no hurry: June?

(Eric Risberg/AP file photo)

ROY OSWALT has told major league teams that he might pull a Roger Clemens and skip the first half of the season, then return at midseason, a source told

A skeptic might say the 34-year-old righthander already skipped half a season last year, when back issues and hurricane relief limited him to 139 innings with the Phillies.

Oswalt became a free agent when the Phillies chose not to pick up his $16 million option for this season. The three-time All-Star was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts last year.

Agent Bob Garber issued this statement yesterday: "After much thought and careful consideration, Roy has decided to continue to evaluate his options. He is in great health and will continue to stay in shape, while throwing regularly off the mound. Roy has every intention of pitching for a contending club at some point this season."

Oswalt is 159-93 in 11 seasons with the Houston Astros and the Phillies.

Clemens made his season debuts in June with Houston in 2006 and with the Yankees in 2007. Pedro Martinez did the same thing with the Phillies in 2009.

That strategy might be ideally suited for Oswalt. According to ESPN Stats & Information, of the 84 pitchers with at least 50 career starts who were active at the end of last season, Oswalt has the best career winning percentage (.739) after the All-Star break.

Boston, St. Louis and Texas had expressed interest in Oswalt, who is said to be asking $10 million.