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Off-day interview with Roger Clemens

Off-day interview with Roger Clemens

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Your first game of the 2007 playoffs is an elimination game with your team in an 0-2 hole, do you welcome that challenge?

ROGER CLEMENS: I really don't even care to look at it like that. You know, we're back home now, and we need to hold our home field advantage. Bottom line is for me to get the ball to the next starter, whoever that is. If it's Moose, you know, I haven't heard what Joe's thoughts are on that. Really get the ball to Mo would be nice for me. And get it late to our guys that can handle it out there. That will mean I'm getting deep in the game and a number of innings, and that's what I'm looking at.

How do you feel like the layoff may affect you, if at all?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I trust that I've done enough work to stay sharp. If I'm not, it really doesn't matter. I've got to go out and be aggressive. What I lack in stuff, I'll throw my heart out there like I always have. My will will have to take over, and I'm sure I'll go through all ranges of emotions that I normally go through as far as my focus and concentration, and rely on that. So again, I can only trust that the work I've done the last ten days will be helpful.

You usually are pretty pumped up in these situations, plus the long layoff. Are you going to have to reel yourself back in just a little bit?

ROGER CLEMENS: Usually pumped up, if you've been paying attention, I'm locked in, like I said, I've got a lot of will and desire, doesn't matter my age. And I've had that, again, if you guys have been following me for not only the time I've been here, but my entire career, you know, that's what I draw on. I draw on a lot of energy. You know, if my body feel goods or bad, I don't worry about it. I expect to have aches and pains; over the last ten years I've had it.

So I think that experience is what I try to help not only the kids that I met in Tampa, not only with the Houston organization, but also these guys here and the younger players here that you're not going to feel great all the time, but you've still got to get out there and answer the bell. Might not work out like you expect it, but those are the games, for me, you enjoy the most. When you're on and you have your great stuff, you should win those games. The games that you've got to battle a little bit and you come out on top and win those games whether you get the win or not, those are gratifying. That's how you win a lot of ballgames. That's how you stay around in this league for a long time.

I was going to ask, are you surprised that the team is in this situation, 0-2?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, you know, we didn't play well Game 1. Last night's game was just an outstanding game. I told Andy he looked great from the stretch since he was in it all night, but we've experienced that before. That's part of it. The bug or gnat situation was obviously kind of bizarre. I think it's hard enough for our young kids to go out there and concentrate in that situation to have something like that happen. I would have probably pulled us off the field. If you got to see it up close on TV, which I happened to see it a half inning on the television, you could really see how annoying it was. And you had to really heighten your concentration through something like that.

So it is what it is. I mean, we're here, we're at home, we have our crowd, our energy, and we'll see if we can work to our advantage now.

If you're going to have Wang for Game 4, what kind of advice would you give to him?

ROGER CLEMENS: He's got experience, he's got great experience under his belt. And even when he's not on, he can be effectively wild because his stuff is that good. I just want him to feel well and make sure he feels good and comfortable and he'll be fine. I mean, I told him all year, even when I watched him from afar, I really enjoyed watching him work. And you know, I watch him in the weight room. I watch how he carries himself and the things how he goes about it. He's going to be good for a long time. If he keeps up his routine, he's going to be fine.

When you said you would pull the team off the field, are you saying if you were the umpire or if you were Joe?

ROGER CLEMENS: Yeah, I just think who knows? If it had lasted, it's easy to say now because it only lasted about 40 minutes. But if you're in the dugout or watching as a fan there at the game, you really didn't really see. I don't know how much y'all saw. I don't watch replays or any of this stuff, but I did see it on TV in close ups of the guys and it was incredible. Like I said, it was hard enough.

Will you be doing anything special tomorrow to keep that hamstring from acting up? Wrapping it or doing work between innings or anything?

ROGER CLEMENS: I'm going to be doing some things, but I'm not going to talk about it in here. I don't think it's anything I want to put out there for anybody to know.

When you came back, is this the kind of thing that you were thinking about, dreaming about? Hoping to be part of?

ROGER CLEMENS: Yeah, the playoffs. I mean, same thing happened in Houston. Like I've said many times, too. We were able to take that club to different levels and with some great teammates down there. And that was a lot of fun.

Again, to get a phone call to come back and try and have this opportunity with these guys to try and get this done right. Like I've always said, driving in the stadium today you see 2000 on there, and it's been a long seven years. You know, that's what the goal is here. Very high expectations, and you either like that or you don't.

But it's always a privilege. I feel very fortunate to still be able to be working and doing the things that I love to do and bringing some joy to not only my family but to the fans, that's for sure. It's definitely worth it. Made all the work pay off. Even setbacks or anything that you had, it still makes it a great deal of fun.

Do you feel this will be your final postseason?

ROGER CLEMENS: In postseason in general, I don't know. I can't tell y'all that. I've tried it for a long time. I was sincere and serious in Florida, I thought that was it. Shed some tears, and kind of reminisced about my career down in Florida. So, you know, way back when I left that percentage point there open, you know, I'm glad I did. You never know what's going to happen. I saw sitting at home, I saw all the injuries that happened here. Everything that the team was going through, and it was not the direction they wanted to go in.

But again, my job, I'm looking forward to when I am done, the thing that I have going on with the club in Houston, working with the kids, I really enjoy that. I've told you all that I enjoy the teaching part of it. So pitching is part of my job here, there's a lot more to it. But at this point of the year, I think it's the most important thing going out there and pitching well and winning games now. At some points it was equally as important for me to teach and talk to these young kids and be there to answer questions. But tomorrow to be able to pitch well, and I think my teammates will be ready, also.

You've been in playoff games here for 21 years or so and been on teams in some tight spots. Do you have any favorite memory of a game like this where you look back on it and kind of draw from?

ROGER CLEMENS: Man, I date a long time. I wish I had kept a better journal, and I'll be able to reflect at one point when it is all said and done. But there's been some just tremendous games. Not only when I was out there performing, but even when I was a spectator in the dugout. How your emotions go up and down that okay, you're going to pitch this game, maybe not. Okay, now you hope to take the Diamondback series, you know, Andy's going to get me the ball. The things that happen here, Andy will get me the ball, go out and do his job in Game 6 and we'll see what happens.

You know, just playoff experience has been great. I've been real fortunate. I've been in a number of situations with a lot of great ballclubs I've had postseason play. But there's a lot of neat moments that I've had, and that I've watched and witnessed. I mean, probably the two most memorable World Series that I had the opportunity to play in were on the losing end, but just unbelievable. '86 was emotional, obviously. You talk about the California Angels series way back when, and what we did to them and what happened to us across town.

Then the 2001 World Series for obvious reasons, everything that went on here in the city and just the emotional roller coaster that was going on there was incredible.

In situations like tomorrow night where there's little room for error, do you sense that teammates turn to you for big moments?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I've had little room for error a lot of times. Again, just like I talk to my fellow starters, our approach is if we give up one, we're not giving up two; if we give up two, we're not giving up three. That's the way you approach it. Don't beat yourself up too much, because the game will do it for you.

Again, whatever it takes to get it done, I've got to get somebody the ball on Monday, and that's the bottom line.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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