Magical week ends well for Matt

Clement awed by first All-Star experience

DETROIT -- To anyone taking a stroll around the American League clubhouse prior to Tuesday night's All-Star Game, it was hard not to notice the white Red Sox No. 30 jersey hanging in the middle of the room.

The purpose of Matt Clement placing a uniform top in that area was obvious. He wanted everyone on the American League squad to sign it.

Before the AL even went to take batting practice, a clubhouse attendant brought the jersey back to Clement's locker and it was filled with signatures that will forever commemorate the right-hander's first All-Star appearance.

"When I look back at this, those are the things I'm going to look at," said Clement. "The jersey, the baseball I got signed -- just being a part of this is something you dream about as a kid, and to actually get to do it is pretty fun."

A few hours later, Clement showed how worthy his selection was, mowing through the National League with just 15 pitches, nine of which were strikes. He got routine flyouts to center from Luis Castillo and David Eckstein, and after walking Bobby Abreu, Clement completed his participation by striking out Carlos Beltran.

"I was more concerned how I was going to warm up, because I haven't relieved much in my career," said Clement. "Once I got out there, it was probably the most comfortable I've felt all week. To be out there with my catcher made it even more comfortable."

Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek was extremely happy that the NL's string of gooseggs, which was finally stopped in the seventh inning, did not end with Clement on the mound.

"At that point, we hadn't given up any runs, and I didn't want it to be Matt," Varitek said. "I wanted Matt to have a nice, fresh outing, and he did."

What made the experience extra meaningful for Clement was that he got to throw his inning to Varitek. Clement and Varitek seemed to hit it off from their first inning together in Spring Training. Clement doesn't think it is any coincidence that his first All-Star selection occurred the first year he started teaming with Varitek.

"That's one of the big reasons I'm here is because of the relationship I've started to develop with 'Tek," said Clement.

Clement has done some traveling in his career, going from the Padres to the Marlins to the Cubs before landing in Boston. He feels that he's finally found the perfect spot. Clement relished sharing the All-Star festivities with four teammates from the Red Sox.

"I can't say enough about the guys who are superstars on our team," Clement said. "Johnny [Damon], Tek, Manny [Ramirez], Papi [David Ortiz]. These guys, they're as good as you get. I've said this so many times over this All-Star break, I've never been around nine guys that when they cross the line, play harder. For me to have that as a pitcher, you can't ask for more as a starting pitcher, to have guys like that who want to win so bad and play so hard."

All-Star Game 2005

Now that his All-Star mission is complete, Clement will get back to being the ace of the Red Sox, a job he has done remarkably well this season. Heading into Saturday's start against the Yankees, Clement is 10-2 with a 3.85 ERA.

While Clement's time in Detroit was busy, he enjoyed the experience. Enough so that he hopes that he'll get to live it again.

"It would be great," he said. "I'd love to do it every year if it was possible. I'll keep working, hopefully I'll get another chance if I'm lucky."

But as Clement can fully attest now, luck doesn't play much of a role in developing into an All-Star.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.