BOSTON -- Leave it to young Mattix Clement, less than three months from his third birthday, to help his father Matt prepare for his first start since July 26. That was the scary night that Matt Clement was struck just above the right ear on a vicious line drive off the bat of Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford.
"The first pitch I threw [Mattix] when I get home, he hit a line drive past my head," said Clement. "I think he was getting me ready. It was a tennis ball. I put the glove on after that."
As Clement gets ready to step back on the hill on Thursday afternoon against the Royals at Fenway Park, he doesn't feel any added nerves or fear. Perhaps things will be different once he throws the first pitch, but, more than anything, the Boston right-hander is eager to get back on the mound.
"I'm concentrating on what I need to do to pitch and get people out," said Clement, who is 10-3 with a 4.43. "If something pops up while I'm out there, if I feel something while I'm out there, I'm going to do my best job to plow through it and make it disappear."
The whole aftermath of Clement's scare has been remarkable, considering how bad it looked at the moment he went down.
But the ultra-competitive Clement wasn't even close to as injured as people thought. In fact, Clement, who refers to himself as bullheaded, actually pondered, albeit briefly, trying to get back on the mound and pitch instead of being wheeled off on a stretcher.
By outward appearances, you can't tell that anything even happened to Clement.
"Just a little bit of scab that's kind of itchy that they won't let me pick off," said Clement. "That's really the only sign I have of it. It's amazing."
The final step to normalcy occurs Thursday.
"I feel good. I've felt better every day," said Clement. "I don't anticipate anything will be bad. One thing you can't simulate is game situations and game speed and heart rate and how everything is going to go once you get into the situation of a game. When that happens, it could be different. I'm not apprehensive about going back out there. I can't say that after the first guy swings I might be. I'm going to take it as it is and go out there and do the job that I do."
And one clear positive in Clement's mind is that the eight days of rest he's had between starts will pay off down the road, particularly if the Red Sox go deep into October.
"It will be a good little break for my arm in the middle of the season that I'm not used to getting," he said.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.