Clemens arrives in camp to work with pitchers
Seven-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens arrived in Astros camp Wednesday and went right to work, watching two groups of pitchers throw in the bullpen. He pulled a few of the guys aside to work on mechanics, including Lucas Harrell and Jared Cosart.
“I love it because when I was young, I was fortunate to have some veteran players around that I wasn’t afraid to ask pointed questions,” Clemens said. “I paid attention to detail and enjoyed watching. If I can fire them up and get them all excited and still give them a little reality, that’s good.”
Clemens, who will be in camp again Thursday and plans to show up next month at some point, is a special advisor to the club. He said the team’s young pitchers need to step up this year, a point he made when he addressed the pitchers and catchers.
“It was pretty straightforward,” Clemens said. “We talked about the expectations that there’s more than a handful of guys that have opportunity, and they need to take a big step forward. Spring Training, everybody’s all giddy right now and then you start the season and everybody gets punched in the face, and it’s not a lot of fun. I think they’re taking the kid gloves off them a little bit and asking a lot of them to step up.”
Clemens revels in the chance to help young pitchers, and the Astros certainly have no shortage of those guys. His impact with the Astros goes beyond Spring Training. Last year, he was sent on special assignments to watch some Minor League players and potential Draft picks, and the Astros sent him to Los Angeles last month to try to lure Masahiro Tanaka.
But the chance to work one-on-one with the pitchers in the spring is what he finds the most enjoyable.
“That was something that was said today also — obviously, it’s not working for some of you so you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing,” he said. “If you need to do some extra work, conditioning, whatever, it might be to make you mentally tougher than the next guy. With all the conditioning I did over my career, that really helped me feel like I had an edge over the next guy.”
The Astros will executive advisor Nolan Ryan in camp sometime next month as well.
“Last year, I was in the clubhouse when he spoke to the players,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said of Clemens. “He able to not only give the appropriate messages to the pitchers, but also to the catchers and position players [Clemens didn’t address position players Wednesday]. He really understands our philosophy as an organization. He’s been a part of this organization for a long time and he sees eye to eye with everything we’re doing, and it was so much credibility from a player who’s won seven Cy Young awards.”