Results tagged ‘ Roger Clemens ’
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.”
Astros pitchers have one more day of live batting practice Wednesday before they’ll appear in Grapefruit League games, beginning with Saturday’s opener against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.
Astros manager Bo Porter singled out right-hander Brad Peacock, acquired in a trade with Oakland earlier this month, as throwing the ball well.
“It was down in the zone,” he said. “Those guys [the group that pitched Tuesday] had their last live day, so they mixed in their breaking stuff and his breaking ball was good, change-up was good and his fastball was explosive with late life. It was good to see.”
Porter said Tuesday the club will use a pitching machine that throws nothing but curveballs in Thursday’s intrasquad game.
“As you take batting practice and even through live [BP], these guys haven’t taken too many swings off of breaking balls,” Porter said. “It’s one of those things that when you get to a game setting and you have the backdrop and the space and the field and all the cages and stuff like that removed, it’s always a good drill.”
The Astros will hold a draft Wednesday morning to pick teams for the intrasquad game, which will be held inside Osceola County Stadium and last about five or six innings. The teams will be called Team Everett and Team Ensberg, with Minor League instructors Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett serving as coaches.
Here is the day in pictures:
Roger Clemens met with the media Monday morning in Kissimmee and handed out a typed statement about the passing of country music singer Mindy McCready, who was a former friend of Clemens.
According to reports, McCready was found dead Sunday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The statement read:
“Yes, this is sad news.
“I had heard over time that she was trying to get peace and direction in her life.
“The few times that I had met her and her manager/agent they were extremely nice.”
Roger Clemens was back on the fields at Osceola County Stadium on a chilly morning, wearing and orange and blue batting practice cap, a new blue Astros jacket and a pair of blue jeans that had the team’s daily schedule tucked in the back of the waist.
“Our colors have changed and the expectations have changed a little bit,” Clemens said.
Sunday marked Clemens’ first day on the field as a special instructor for the Astros. He’ll spend about four days in Kissimmee this week, and be back and forth between Florida and Houston two more times this spring. It was all result of owner Jim Crane wanting the seven-time Cy Young Award winner to get more involved while he has a personal services contract.
Clemens joined the coaches’ meetings on Sunday morning and then hit the field after speaking with reporters for about 10 minutes. He plans to shadow manager Bo Porter, trying to learn as much as he can about the Astros’ promising young pitchers, which he admits will be harder considering there are no names on the backs of the jerseys.
“It was fun to listen in on the coaches meeting,” he said. “A lot of great coaches are here to help these young kids kind of find their way, take the next step. Hopefully that’s the case.”
Clemens said his message to the players will be simple.
“Right now, you want to get great quality work in, not really quantity,” he said. “I’ve always felt the ability to focus better than the next person is what’s going to help them the most, and have those expectations they can win even though everybody thinks they can’t.
“Some of the excitement will wear off here after a week and games will get underway, and then it’s trying to establish yourself. From what I understand from all the other pitching coaches floating around here is there’s plenty of jobs to be had on the staff, so that’s exciting. I’ve seen most of these guys.
“I know there’s not names on the backs on their jerseys, and that makes it a little more difficult. I’ve seen most of them and have thrown batting practice to some of the everyday players that are here now and doing the same things I’ve always done. I visit with the guys by phone or text and watch them, and that’s what it’s all about.”
When the season starts, Clemens will stay involved. He’s a season-ticket holder so he’ll be around the ballpark often, and the Astros will lean on him heavily when debating which player to take with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s First-Year Player Draft.
“I’ve seen film on guys they’re interested in and it’s always better to be able to eyeball them in person,” he said. “My deal is, I love rooting for the underdog. I’ve always been that way. I won 200 games with my stuff and my ability and [the rest] with my heart and getting it done. I’m excited. I’m a season-ticket holder, so I’m excited just like anybody else is for these guys to get out there.”
Porter has made a great first impression on Clemens.
“Bo has a lot of energy,” he said. “I like his detail. He pays attention to detail, and I like him talking about the running game a lot. For me, as a pitcher, I can just tell them… I don’t know our personnel and the guys that can run, but I imagine we have some guys who can run and get it done.”
Clemens was asked about the recent Hall of Fame vote, saying he wasn’t concerned with not getting elected on his first time on the ballot this year. He said his stint with the Sugar Land Skeeters last fall was simply about getting to play with his son, Koby, and not about making a comeback as so many had speculated.
Still, Clemens said he might get on the mound this spring and throw live batting practice, which would help him stay in shape and perhaps help the batters.
“I really enjoy doing it,” he said. “I try and throw quality BP and it’s fun for the guys. They seem to enjoy it. I can tell when a guy steps in the plate, I can tell him what I see and how I’m going to go about breaking him down as a hitter.”
Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens will be uniform as an instructor for the Astros at Spring Training next month.
Clemens, who has a personal services contract with the Astros, met for five hours Monday morning at Minute Maid Park with general manager Jeff Luhnow, pitching coach Doug Brocail, director of player development Quinton McCracken and the amateur scouts.
“We talked about pitching in the Minor Leagues, scouting pitching, pitching in the college ranks and high school ranks and teaching pitching, so it was a good working day,” Luhnow said.
Luhnow and Clemens also mapped out a plan for Spring Training that will see Clemens make at least a couple of trips to Kissimmee, Fla., beginning in late February for a Minor League mini camp. He’ll also work with the Major League club at that time and again later in camp.
“We feel pretty good about Roger’s level of involvement this year,” he said. “I think he’s going to be a lot more involved than he was last year and we’d welcome it on our side to have someone like him around.”
Clemens was a frequent sight around the back fields at Osceola County Stadium following his retirement in 2007, especially since his oldest son, Koby, played in the Astros system from 2005-2011. He’s kept a lower profile the last couple of years, but will take an active role this year.
“At this point, the plan to make two trips to Kissimmee to work with our pitchers and then he’ll be available and around during several of the homestands this year,” Luhnow said. “If we feel like we need him to send him on assignment to one of our Minor League affiliates or see a pitcher for the Draft, he’s open to doing that. We’ll play it by ear, but we expect we’ll see Roger in Kissimmee sometime before the end of February.”
Luhnow said having an asset like Clemens will be huge for a young team with several up-and-coming arms.
“It’s got a tremendous amount of value because not only does he understand where they’re coming from, he was an amateur player, he was a young professional and he had a long, storied career,” he said. “But he has a lot of anecdotes from throughout his career about different people that taught him different things and the successes and failures he had, and I think it really makes it real when you hear these stories.
“A lot of these kids probably watched him on TV when they were youngsters, so to hear it straight from his mouth will have a huge impact on them. Today was a good today because we felt we were very much in alignment in terms of our vision in terms of how Doug teaches it and Roger teaches it. It’s great Doug is welcoming Roger with open arms.”