Clemens entertains in pitching session, press conference
I got to catch up with quite a few people Tuesday during the Clemens-palooza at Sovereign Bank Stadium. Click here to read full details on all the happenings, from Clemens’ press conference, to his one-on-one interview with myself and York Daily Record reporters Jim Seip and Ryan Dixon, to Clemens’ 18-minute pitching session in front of 1,000 fans, and more.
- Click here to check out all the photos from the event.
- Click here to check out the videos from the event.
- The Revolution fell to the Sugar Land Skeeters, 10-3, on Tuesday in front of 3,394 hometown fans. Click here for the full game details.
- York signed utility infielder and former first-round pick David Espinosa on Tuesday. Click here to read more.
Instead of going with a lengthy article, below is a collection of some notable quotes from Clemens and a couple other recognizable Skeeters’ names collected Tuesday:
- On his plans beyond Friday’s scheduled start against Long Island: “I’m winging it. That’s exactly right. I don’t have a plan on Friday. It’s getting more exciting as each day goes by.”
- On if he still has a desire to pitch in the major leagues again: “No. I don’t. I’m just kind of taking each day as it comes. Two days ago I was throwing batting practice with college kids at the house over a long weekend. It’s been mentioned and I’ve heard people mention it but I’m nowhere close to being ready to pitch in a major league game.”
- On if he’s ruling out a return to big leagues in 2012: “I don’t see it happening. Everybody’s speculating and everybody’s got their own opinions and that’s great. I’m just happy. Like I told (Skeeters’ manager) Gary (Gaetti), if I’m gonna come back and do this…it got the attention everybody is talking about a media stunt. It’s great. They covered it. It was fun.”
- On how his comeback will effect his legacy: “Not much. I did it to the best of my ability and to the highest quality I could give. So, I’m not too concerned about my legacy. I went out there and performed. I think if you asked my teammates they wouldn’t tell you anything different and that’s all that matters to me.”
- On his thoughts about the National Baseball Hall of Fame: “I know most of the people who run the Hall of Fame and I’ve had an opportunity to meet them. It’s kind of like your final resting place if you will. Having said that I’m not going to go around shaking guys hands and tell them I’m a Hall of Famer. My numbers are my numbers. If they feel I’m deserving or not I don’t really have any control over it. I hear from the guys who are in and that’s great. But again it’s not going to change my life either way.”
- On pitching with one of his four sons, Koby, when they played together at Class A Lexington (Astros) in 2006: “I think during my last inning in the third inning Koby handed me the ball. I thought I was gonna get a scouting report of one of the players. Koby said ‘Hey Pops, let me run this by you. If you strike out these last two guys everybody in the whole place gets free windshield wiper fluid.’ I said ‘Thanks for the tip, son. That’s great.’ So I punched out two guys and everybody got windshield wiper fluid.”
- On his interest in possibly owning an Atlantic League club in Texas in the near future: “I’ve got ownership in two minor league teams already. I enjoy doing that. I like the way clubs are run. This is..Sugar Land in the short period of time I’ve been around, they run it as well as any minor league team that I’ve seen. So, if it’s somewhere around home that I can be accessible to, sure would (think about it).”
- On going through the trial: “I knew what was ahead of us. Obviously family-wise and stuff it definitely was (hard on us). Watching them go through it. I try to keep a solid or broad shoulders or whatever. My wife was a rock through it all. It was a great. We finally got in a fair setting.” “We’re gonna write about it one day. We don’t have time now to write a book on our lives. But we’ll write about it and tell it how it is and tell some really interesting things that people never picked up, even some things seasoned writers didn’t pick up on what happened at the trial.”
- Clemens also thought highly of the Atlantic League, saying it’s not far off from the talent in the majors and it’s about on-par with affiliated minor leagues: “The few games that I’ve seen and the one that I’ve played in when the anthem is being played and the game is getting under way they’re very serious about playing baseball. I think the managers on both teams would expect that. Not only here in York, but in Sugar Land that’s the case. They do it right and looking from afar that’s what you want to see.”
Tal Smith, Sugar Land Skeeters’ senior adviser:
- On Clemens’ chances of pitching in the majors again: “He is so competitive in everything he does. He has such great love for the game. He enjoys competing. He stays active. He stays in good shape. He’s running. He’s playing ball. He’s throwing BP to his boys and so on. When Roger sets out to do something he succeeds. It’s an unbelievable story. I have all the confidence in the world he can do it.”
- On why he decided to take the senior adviser role with the Skeeters: “I’ve spent my life in baseball. This is my 55th year. I love the game and enjoy it. I wanted to stay active. I’ve known Peter Kirk, the chairman of Opening Day Partners, for 30-some years and did some work for him when he first started off in Frederick, Maryland. I was doing consulting work for other clubs at that time. We’ve stayed in touch over the years. My home is in Houston. I was aware of what was going on in Sugar Land. It just made all the sense to me.”
- On how Clemens’ deal with the Skeeters could serve as a possible stepping stone for more Atlantic League expansion teams in Texas: “There has been a great deal of interest down there. The Skeeters have been very successful. There has been a lot of attention paid to it. Ultimately it takes a period of time to do this. There is a lot of financing and operations involved in building a ballpark, picking a sight and so on and so forth. I think the goal is to expand hopefully in the south west and create a south west division. I think ultimately that will happen.”
Matt O’Brien, Sugar Land Skeeters’ president:
- On the healthy relationship between the Skeeters and the Houston Astros: “It is a healthy relationship. Art Howe was on the radio broadcast with us for a game the other day. Numerous Astros (players) came through. Jose Cruz came by the ballpark. We had a conversation with Jose Cruz and it was about his son, Enrique, who played here in York. And so I think the relationship with the Astros is strong.”
- On how hard it was to keep the Clemens’ deal under wraps: “Well the first month it wasn’t hard at all because I was like ‘No way. You guys are crazy.’ After his agent, Randy Hendricks, e-mailed me and said ‘I think we should talk.’ I said OK. This was about two weeks before it (the signing) was announced. Now Gary (Gaetti) and Roger talked for much longer. He (Gary) told me about a month before I heard from Randy that we’re working on something. I knew about it. I knew we were talking to Roger about this and Koby. We were checking on what Kody is doing. But he’s with the Blue Jays.”
- On the agreement between the Skeeters and ESPN to broadcast Clemens’ starts: “Can’t comment on how the deal worked. It was a nice historic deal for us with ESPN. The final contract signing was really cool.” “It’s just a nice TV agreement. It was a win-win for everybody to have them spotlight the Skeeters and the league.”
Gary Gaetti, Sugar Land Skeeters’ manager:
- On how Koby Clemens led to Roger Clemens’ signing: “We were interested in his son. That’s how this all started. It just kind of went from there. Roger, you here him talk, he’s just a regular guy. He’s a legend but he’s real approachable.” “Well I was real serious to start. As I was texting Koby it crossed my mind, I’m just gonna go ahead and say ‘Roger, I’m offering you a contract right now. No kidding.’ I just said ‘I’m offering you a contract right now. You can come and pitch opening day.’ I was kind of seeing what it would mean in Houston and just who he is. He could do it. We could afford it. He texted back and I thought he was serious and he said ‘I could probably give you five innings right now.’ As much as we changed our roster and our pitching I never forgot about that. I mentioned something to him (recently) and said ‘Hey my offer still stands.’ The next thing I got is ‘Hey, I’ve been throwing a little bit.’ And I said ‘Let’s work it out.’”
- On how different the game feels when Clemens is involved: “I could feel a little bit of it last night. There’s a lot of people there. It’s not a normal Monday night or a Friday night. It feels a lot like playoff atmosphere. Everybody is on the edge of their seat seeing something that they may not see again. Fans are just really antsy. It’s just a good feeling. After the game I was exhausted. It was a good game. I’m glad it went the way it went. We won. That felt like a playoff game right there you know.”