Results tagged ‘ Roger Clemens ’

Porter tells team actions were “disrespectful”

When manager Bo Porter addressed the Astros pitchers and catchers on the field prior to Wednesday’s workout, he could be overheard raising his voice and telling his team they’re actions were “disrespectful.” Porter was asked about the incident following the workout and said it stemmed from the daily 9 a.m. ET meeting, which he calls a “synergistic chemistry lab” for the players. Seven-time Cy Young award winner and Astros special advisor Roger Clemens was visiting camp to speak to the club and not all the players were ready.

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Bo Porter addresses team

“Obviously, as an organization we’re fortunate to have some people like Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio and different people that will come in here over the course of the year and speak to our ballclub,” Porter said. “Even that being said, we have the 9 o’clock meeting when it comes to the synergistic chemistry lab.

“Out of respect to your teammates, out of respect to the people that take time out of their day to come out there and try to do everything they can to help this organization, it’s the right thing to do to make sure you’re dressed and ready and attentive when that person shows up or when it’s time for a team meeting.”

Porter appointed a handful of veterans earlier this week  to lead a closed-door players-only team meeting each day at 9 a.m. He’s not in the meetings, but he walked Clemens into the clubhouse Wednesday and didn’t like what he saw from some players.

“From a respect standpoint, you should give them that respect,” he said.

Pitcher Brett Oberholtzer said Porter brings the passion every day. “As a manager, you have to be that way I feel like,” he said. “With a younger ballclub in the Major League, it works.”

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.

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Roger Clemens watches Lucas Harrell throw in bullpen

“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.”

Clemens congratulated Pettitte

Lost in the frenzy of the final day of the career of Yankees great Mariano Rivera, which included an on-field ceremony Sunday at Minute Maid Park, was a quick hug that was exchanged between former teammates and friends Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.

The two Houston-area pitchers had been close friends for years and followed each other from the Yankees to the Astros in 2004 and then back to the Bronx three years later, only to see their friendship sour when Pettitte testified in Clemens’ federal perjury trial that Clemens admitted using human growth hormone.

Clemens sought out Pettitte on Sunday and was asked Monday about the exchange.

“I just told him ‘Congratulations,’” Clemens said. “He proved it in his last start [Saturday] that he probably could continue on and pitch and help a lot of ballclubs if he wanted to continue to play. Andy is 41 and the big left-hander put himself, as far as I’m concerned, right there with Whitey Ford…with the Yankees.”

Pettitte had previously testified Clemens told him he had used HGH, but later said he may have been mistaken.

Pettitte threw a complete game on Saturday to beat the Astros in the final game of his 18-year career.

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.”

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Maxwell first pick for Astros intrasquad

The Astros on Wednesday morning held a draft for Thursday’s intrasquad game with Minor League instructor Morgan Ensberg, who will be coaching against Adam Everett, taking outfielder Justin Maxwell with the No. 1 overall pick. The Astros will split up for an intra-squad game at 12 noon CT Thursday at Osceola County Stadium.

Here’s what else is new Wednesday:

  • Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez issued a no comment through a team spokesman Wednesday morning one day after an ESPN reported linked him to a South Florida clinic that’s been connected to performance-enhancing drugs. Astros manager Bo Porter told reporters Wednesday he spoke to Martinez prior to the team’s morning workout at Osceola County Stadium. Porter said Martinez would continue to be involved in camp activities, and he was on the field Wednesday.
  • Porter said he’s working to get legendary Iowa football coach Hayden Fry to be at his managerial debut March 31 at Minute Maid Park. He said Fry follows everything that goes on with the Astros with “great anticipation.” Porter played football at Iowa under Fry.
  • Porter said he expects Matt Dominguez to get the bulk of the time at third base, which certainly isn’t a surprise. He said Brett Wallace will get a look at third base, but he’ll primarily play first. Brandon Laird and Marwin Gonzalez can also play third base.
  • Today is Roger Clemens‘ final day in camp, and he could throw live batting practice. He showed up to the facility wearing his baseball pants, so stay tuned.


Peacock impresses Porter in live batting practice

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:

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Bo Porter and Roger Clemens.

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Bo Porter demonstrates a cut-off throw.

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Matt Dominguez prepares to catch a ball.

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Tyler Greene is all smiles after “‘Stros Win!”

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Rudy Owens hands out high fives.

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Hitting coach John Mallee talks to his guys.

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Carlos Pena mixes in an energy bar.

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Justin Maxwell adjusts his socks.

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Carlos Pena and bench coach Eduardo Perez talk.

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Bud Norris throws live batting practice.

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Roger Clemens and Doug Brocail talk to Brett Oberholtzer.

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Dave Clark stands over a group of players changing shoes.

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Jason Castro prepares to take his cuts.

Clemens statement on passing of Mindy McCready

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.”

Astros hitters face live pitching as Clemens arrives

The big news at Astros camp was the arrival of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who will be a frequent visitor to camp this year. The Astros have invited him back to help tutor their young pitchers, and he rolled up his sleeves and went to work on Sunday by watching pitchers throw live batting practice and offering advice to several young arms.

“Obviously, when someone like Roger is talking, you’re a sponge,” pitcher John Ely said.

Also, Astros owner Jim Crane had the thrill of a lifetime when he got the chance to play golf with both President Obama and Tiger Woods. Crane spoke to about his great day.

Meanwhile, Sunday marked the first day hitters faced live pitching, and most of the hitters used the time to simply track pitches — watch them thrown into the catcher’s mitt — more than trying to hit, though there were a few who took some hacks on a cold day.

“I took a swing and squared up a line drive up the middle,” Carlos Pena said. “At this stage, you want to make sure you’re ready to hit, and you try to track the pitches and follow them into the glove. But you want to make sure you’re in good position to hit, and then if that’s what you want, go ahead and take a swing.”

The chilly temperatures at camp Sunday were a good primer for those April road games in Seattle, manager Bo Porter said. The skipper said the first day of live batting practice was more for the pitchers than anything else.

“It’s was good for the pitchers to get out of the bullpen and get a hitter in the batter’s box and get closer and closer to starting games here,” Porter said. “If you’re seeing the ball live and seeing ball come out of the pitcher hand – the weather was why some guys decided to track – but at the same time I think it was overall good.”

Here is the day in pictures:

Roger Clemens signs autographs.

A long line of fans waits for a Roger Clemens autograph.

Jason Castro and Roger Clemens talks.

Jason Castro and Roger Clemens talk.

Roger Clemens signs autographs.

Roger Clemens signs autographs.

Marwin Gonzalez gets ready to hit.

Marwin Gonzalez gets ready to hit.

Carlos Pena and Roger Clemens hug.

Carlos Pena and Roger Clemens hug.

Doug Brocail and Roger Clemens.

Doug Brocail and Roger Clemens.

Jeff Luhnow and Roger Clemens.

Jeff Luhnow and Roger Clemens.

Brad Peacock warms up in bullpen.

Brad Peacock warms up in bullpen.

Bud Norris plays catch.

Bud Norris plays catch.

Roger Clemens meets with the media Sunday.

Roger Clemens meets with the media Sunday.

Clemens back at work with the Astros

Roger Clemens meets with the media Sunday.

Roger Clemens meets with the media Sunday.

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.”

Clemens to be uniform for Astros this spring

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.”