Clemens has liftoff in Astros' intrasquad tilt
First game at first base a success with father looking on
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- With his famous father -- and most of the Astros' front office -- watching closely on one of the back fields at Osceola County Stadium, Minor League prospect Koby Clemens put on an impressive show on a blustery Wednesday afternoon.
Clemens went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a three-run home run off hard-throwing Houston reliever Matt Lindstrom, in the Astros' intrasquad game. In addition to the homer, he also had an RBI single and later doubled before striking out in his final at-bat.
"First four at-bats of Spring Training for me in a live game, and I got the privilege to play with some of the guys at big league camp and swung the bat really well," Clemens said. "I had a lot of fun. It was a fun day today, even though the weather was kind of crummy."
Clemens, who's one of three dozen players participating in a Minor League mini-camp, started at first base for the team managed by Astros first-base coach Bobby Meacham. Houston's everyday starters didn't play in the game, which was for the pitchers to get their work in more than anything.
"I don't try to do too much or overdo it," Clemens said. "Obviously, you try to amp up for every game you play, but I don't try to overdo it at all. I play my game and trust what I am doing."
The eldest son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, the 23-year-old won the California League batting title with a .345 average last year at Lancaster and led the Class A Advanced circuit in RBIs (121), doubles (45), slugging percentage (.636) and OPS (1.055).
"I had a lot of confidence last year and hit in a really good lineup and a really good-hitting league," Clemens said. "It was very much a perfect storm kind of situation. I got an opportunity to hit behind guys like [Jon] Gaston, [Jack] Shuck and [T.J.] Steele, and they're getting on base for me three out of four times and I'm having a lot of opportunities to hit with runners on first and third and less than two outs. Kind of similar to how today went. The pressure is on the pitcher, and I just trust what I can do."
Clemens was drafted out of Memorial High School in Houston in 2005 as an infielder and split time last year between catcher and designated hitter. He's going to be playing some at first base this year, and Wednesday's game marked his first full game at that position.
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"So far, I've played pretty good," he said. "That was my first full game at first base ever in my life, so it went pretty well. I didn't make any errors and caught every ball thrown to me and missed a few assignments on balls down the line because I got a little confused, but by the time Spring Training is up, I'll be ready to go."
Roger Clemens, who played for the Astros from 2004-06, was on hand to watch the game and declined an MLB.com interview request.
"He came over and said, 'Nice job,'" Clemens said. "We'll go over it with him later today. I'm sure he's pretty excited. I'm sure I have quite a few voice mails already from my mother."
With a stiff breeze blowing out, Clemens crushed a Lindstrom fastball over the fence in left-center early in the game. He later ripped an RBI single to left off Wilton Lopez and doubled off left-handed prospect Polin Trinidad.
"I don't know how hard [Lindstrom] was throwing or what he was doing, but I tried to put a good swing on it and luckily it went in the right area," Clemens said.
Clemens will likely be sent to Double-A Corpus Christi to begin 2010, meaning he'll be playing only a few hours from his hometown of Houston.
"I don't know if I'll be able to take any days off and head home because we're mostly traveling, but I know the crew will be following me all over the state of Texas and it will be great since I haven't played a full season there since I was a high-schooler," he said. "I'm really excited for it."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.