10/21/05 6:19 PM ET
Roger Clemens off-day interview
By / MLB.com
ROGER CLEMENS: I don't know how ironic it is. We were teammates, I've crossed paths with a lot of teammates, I've been doing this for quite some time. I will comment on he was eager to learn when he came over, and had the I didn't know a lot about him as far as his what he was like when he would take the mound and how he would pitch, but after watching him and some of the work we did in spring training, he really was encouraged when he watched Andy and I work in the mornings. We tried to encourage him on many occasions to come out and work with us, especially being he's a big bodied kid. It was a lot of fun, when he started showing up in the mornings working with us, we had fun and got to know him better. That's how things took off once we became teammates.
Were you nervous in your first World Series appearance, and how do you feel now? How do you keep everything in perspective and not being overwhelmed with everything?
CLEMENS: I'm never really been nervous at all in my playoff experiences. You remember your first one. My first one I didn't feel too well at the time and I was wondering about how my arm was going to react. I believe I was struck with a ball a start or two before, maybe a start before. I was getting one of those tune up starts, I think it was in Boston I'm going back a ways. But I think I was in tune a little more with what was going on as far as the history of what happened with the club that I was on at the time, that they hadn't won Game 7's, you would hear that. But at that point I was still quite young and I wasn't I didn't take heart to the history part of it as much as I would like to have, and like I am now, obviously with the path that I've traveled.
I'll be prepared and do what I need to do. Really it comes down to what I've told you every time. I'll go out and see how my body feels and I'll make adjustments from that point on.
How cool is it, how fitting is it that you, a Texas guy, will be pitching the first game that a Texas team will ever play in the World Series? How neat is that for you?
CLEMENS: It's exciting. Again, from where we've come from with this ballclub, so much from further down than last year's club that I was a part of, I think over the last couple of days once we caught that fly ball in St. Louis, I've just reflected on everything that's happened a little bit and just to see the expressions on the guys' faces that have been here, I'm most happy for them. I'm thankful that it's happened for them so they get the experiences because not every great player gets the opportunity to do this. Not every player that's just has an average career or just a a fairly average career, they don't get to experience this type of excitement and this type of fine alternative to the situation, where everything is magnified.
And again, we're in Chicago where the air is a little crisper, the sights are louder, clearer. I'll be very interested when everything is said and done to hear the comments from the guys that have not been here before. I've had, over the last 24 hours, had several of the guys really asking a lot of questions and trying to answer it the best way I can for them. But I enjoy hearing their stories, just like all of you, when you all get inside a little bit beyond the game and hear the neat little things going on with players that have never experienced this before.
But I can tell you everybody is excited at home. It really gets you amped up again, as a player. I'm in that mode where it's working for me. I'm excited about it. I ponder to myself, this could be my last couple of starts or your last one. So we're trying to make, even before I walked in here, is there going to be a point where I have to turn my cell phone off, I'm trying to get everybody that wants to be a part of this and really share it with everyone. And that includes the entire city, that's the reason I came home, everybody can say what they want, but it was a real hard decision for me to continue to play because I felt I touched just about every aspect of this game that I could. I never want to look back. I want to make sure that I put all of my energy, all of my efforts into this game, the respect I have for it, what it's given me back, and I think you can tell by the effort I've put forth, even at home, I've shown that to my home state and city. They're very excited. I just want them to enjoy it as much as they can, everyone; not just my family, not just my teammates, but the entire state.
Andy said that Joe Torre called yesterday; what did he say to you? I guess you handed Andy the phone?
CLEMENS: Yeah, I wanted to make sure the skipper called me. He said that he wanted to make sure that he wanted to give us his congratulations. I expect nothing less from Joe. Before he was my manager he seemed like a father figure or more of a friend than a manager, to me. I've always enjoyed the way he's managed games, his thought process and things of that nature. But I think even more so I appreciate the time away from the ballpark that I spent with Joe Torre and having the opportunity to hear a few of his stories and the time we spent in Kapalua out in Maui.
He expressed that and I said, "I have the big left hander sitting next to me." So he got the phone, and he knocked two of us out with one phone call. It was great to hear his voice, and he wished us luck.
Pretty cold and rainy, so they say, tomorrow. What kind of effect does is that have on pitchers, including yourself?
CLEMENS: I think you have to ask everyone individually that. I don't really care. Wind is I think the only time that I have a problem on the mound or on the golf course is when there's too much wind. I can handle the hot and the extreme heat and I don't mind if it's freezing cold, just have to keep your body ready.
We're fortunate as pitchers, because we're involved in every pitch, our bodies are doing something and moving. It's nice. That means you're playing late in the year, when you start getting cool weather, so it's nice to be a part of that.
Given how close you guys were to Chicago when you wrapped this up on Wednesday night, were you surprised at all that you went home and what was yesterday like, were players able to get much rest as opposed to coming here and settling in?
If I can go to a totally different subject, the White Sox lineup has a number of hitters who seem to have had numerical success with you in the past. Does this figure to be a difficult lineup for you to face?
CLEMENS: As far as the team getting rest, I think everybody had the chance to catch up a little bit. I think guys went in for treatment yesterday. We got home very early the next morning after wrapping that up in St. Louis. But I think tonight guys will sleep will be able to catch up, if they missed out on any sleep during the celebration part of it.
As far as the lineup, we're going to have meetings the next couple of days. There's some guys I have faced, there's some other guys that I don't know. And again, it will be how I feel coming out of the bullpen. You have guys that have hit well past you before, but each time is a new time. I don't put much stock in it either way. My body will have to feel good and my stuff will have to feel sharp. I'll have to feature all over the entire zone like I expect to do. If I'm having problems with one spot or another, Brad and I will make the adjustment and we'll go from there, it never changes. It is what it is.
You've battled a couple of things physically in recent weeks. What percent of Roger Clemens at his best should we expect to see tomorrow?
CLEMENS: I wouldn't even put a percentage on it. I don't know that it really matters. I'm getting the ball to go out tomorrow to get something done, to get this thing started, to get it started in a positive way for my ballclub and I plan on doing it. That's the bottom line. I don't care how my body feels this time of year. If you need more aspirin, if you need more heat, if you need more ice, this is the time you get it, and you don't ask questions.
When you and Andy came over from New York did you ever envision that you guys would be in the World Series sooner than the Yankees would?
CLEMENS: Well, I don't know that we've ever even worried about that. I think if you look at how we ended up here in Houston, the reasons why, and what I've been through physically and mentally on and off the field, even more so what Andy has gone through with his elbow, has been nothing short of incredible, what this man has come through. His pain tolerance I've known him eight plus.
Years, anyway, and worked with him about that long and his focus and mental approach, his toughness, I've seen it grow every year. And last year to be able to I came out of the dugout in a game last year and Shea Stadium I couldn't watch any longer, because I was feeling I could feel it in my body just watching him trying to get through those games. I had to walk upstairs to the clubhouse. He finally set the ball down to have his surgery. And what he's come back from year because his heart is into it he's into it just like anyone else.
I can tell you the game he pitched the other night at home when I shook his hand before the game, we have a few talks, and he was as focused and as anxious to get that game going. I'm sure to win it for our guys in the clubhouse, but he wanted it as badly as any one that I've seen him want for the city of Houston. So I really appreciate that from him.
Wednesday afternoon you were looking at the very real possibility of starting a Game 7 and now you're starting a Game 1. Can you talk about the mental discipline going from one situation to the other?
CLEMENS: Well, you definitely prepare yourself and you do go through the thought process of what might happen on either in either case. And I've had plenty of experience doing that because this time of year is a fun time to play. I've been fortunate I've been in the middle of a lot of wild playoff games and wild World Series games. I can tell you it happened with Andy a few times where we were like, okay, you're going to get the ball to end it, so get it done. I don't want to have to ice again. And next thing you know a home run here or there and I know that I'm possibly pitching again. So your range of emotions and your thought processes go back and forth. I've had plenty of practice to do that. We're conditioned to do this. This is what we do. I'm just excited to have the opportunity again. It's really
How important was it to you both personally and to your pitching to be able to adjust your schedule and see your son play and just be able to devote a little more time to your life, to your real life?
CLEMENS: Well, I can tell you that my schedule is far more busier now, having to do that, except just worrying about playing baseball and getting guys out. By far it's still the most important thing I need to do. I recognize the fact that going out and pitching and winning games for my club is the most important thing. But the fact of the matter is, I wouldn't be here if that if I didn't have a chance to watch these kids.
I have an 18 year old that's doing this, that's embarking on his career. And I've got three more behind him that care far more that I see them hit a double or make a big tackle than go out here and shake hands. But they also get to share and reap the benefits of all this happening now, too. They get to see dad go out here and do this one more time. Not only it's in his hometown, they see the excitement, they're a year older, they understand more what it means and what it means for a team to come together. I can tell you they learned a lifelong lesson this year, after where we've come from, after you'd asked me April or May if it was the right decision, I might have laughed at you. But what we've come from, how far we've come back to make this happen, to be sitting here today, again, it tells you, I think, all you need to know about this team.
You've been here before. Does it ever get old hat or is this what your whole life is about, as far as a baseball player? And also can you talk about what it means for the city of Houston?
CLEMENS: I can't answer that yes or no. It does not get old hat. I'm very excited to have the opportunity. When the skipper here to my left told me I had the ball in Game 1 it comes with a lot of responsibility, which I've had in the past, but it does not diminish the fact at all that I know that so many people are counting on me, and I enjoy that, I expect it, but it's the career I've led. So here we go again. I'm just very thankful to have the opportunity to be here.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.