Clemens returns to the mound
Seven-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens, who’s working as a special instructor at Spring Training this year for the Astros, put on a uniform and got back on the mound Wednesday for the first time in nearly six months, throwing live batting practice to Houston hitters for about 20 minutes in Kissimmee, Fla.
Clemens, wearing his familiar No. 22 in the Astros’ new color scheme, worked from both the windup and the stretch, and even discarded the L-screen in front of the mound for his final few pitches. Carlos Pena, Rick Ankiel, Justin Maxwell, J.D. Martinez and Chris Carter were among the Astros taking their hacks against Clemens.
When he was done, a clearly tired Clemens was asked if he was getting ready to go back into the rotation.
“I’d rather have a glass of red wine than do that,” Clemens said as he wiped sweat from his brow. “That was fun.”
Clemens, 50, threw a mixture of sliders and fastballs, and called out the pitches to the hitters. He even barked a few batting tips as he was pitching.
“I got to face our big boys and that was fun to see those guys and try and throw them some good batting practice,” he said. “Normally, when I do that it’s for the hitters and I want them to get their timing. I don’t think I’ve been on the bump in eight months. That was fun.”
Clemens said he was throwing at about 70 percent of his effort, joking he didn’t want his elbow to come off with one of those pitches. It was the first time he had gotten on the mound in uniform since throwing 4 2/3 scoreless innings for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters on Sept. 7, 2012.
“When you’re in that setting there you just want to throw strikes,” he said. “I’m probably a little shorter than most of the guys they’re seeing. They’re taking a lot of pitches for their timing. To see something in between their regular timing and coaches’ BP is always good for them.”
Clemens has been throwing to his sons back home, but he picked up the pace Wednesday to get through the batting practice round.
“You get your mouth open and get winded, and [bullpen coach] Dennis [Martinez] was making me laugh standing behind me,” Clemens said. “It was good for the guys… I’m real thankful I’ve taken great care of my body for the most part, and if my sister didn’t make all those cookies and they didn’t have Starbucks, I’d be really game shape right now.”