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October 5, 2005

Roger Clemens


KATY FEENEY: First question, please.

Q. Roger, Smoltz was in here just a few minutes ago and he said the last time he started a playoff game, you were the opposition, you were the pitcher on the other side. Do you remember that game at all? Do you have thoughts about that?

ROGER CLEMENS: I'm assuming it's '99. Obviously, '99, when I was with New York. I don't remember a great deal about it. I haven't reviewed the tapes or seen any highlights of late. It was an exciting time I know for me personally because the number of times I've been to the playoffs, that was the opportunity to obtain the first ring. That was special, that's for sure. As far as John, I know that there's been times we've competed on the course, the golf course, and he's a great competitor, not only in this game that we both love, but also on the golf course. So I'm sure he'll be ready.

Q. John was saying a lot of great things about you, about your credentials and all this. He said if there was anybody he'd want to clone for their mechanics and the way they go about pitching, it would be you. What do you think about that?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, again, you know, he's special also. Coming from him, how hard he has worked his way back many times from injuries and things of that nature, it tells me all I need to know about him as far as his tenacity and his pain tolerance. So, when I heard Bobby Cox, their manager, say that at 95%, he's good enough, that's just it because he's going to give it to you, he's going to go out there and give you whatever he has. And I remember, you know, I'm not sure what the years were, but when his elbow -- I think his elbow was hurting and he was out there pitching with it, it was incredible just to watch him go out there and do it. I kind of put that on the same page as what Andy's done for us this year. Just having him back and having this opportunity now to come to postseason play again with Andy and our guns loaded if you will, it's nice to have Andy and Roy here so we don't -- have somebody there waiting in the background if you happen to stumble your toe, you have some help. That's nice to have. All I need to know is I've seen John's pain tolerance and how he's gone about his work over the years. I can tell you I appreciate it.

Q. Back to your combat on the golf course, how does your game stack up with Smoltz?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I know the names of my kids, I don't play seven times -- no, I'm just kidding. Smoltzie plays a little more than I do, I believe, even though it's going to be hard to -- there's no everyday players here because they get on the starting pitchers all the time. I thought that was the reason Smoltz wanted to start starting again. He's very good. I'm a 5 handicap and I think he's a 0, but I think he's even better than that.

Q. One area John hit on, too, was being in so many playoff games like you both have, he said you can't underscore enough at this stage of the game after a long season being prepared mentally out there in a playoff game. Can you tell me your thoughts on that from your perspective.

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I'm prepared mentally just for the fact what I do with my body. Again, every time I take the mound, it feels like my day off because of what I've done leading up to it. So you just hope that you're prepared, you've blocked out all the distractions and you've gotten yourself ready to go. That's notwithstanding if you're hurting a little bit. My hamstring bothered me three or four starts in a row and you deal with it, you see if it's good enough. Then if you know it's not good enough, and you're hurting your teammates, you've got to step aside and let somebody else have the ball. You've heard the word "frustrating," that's when I'm frustrated. I've said it many times to our local guys covering us, that that's the only time when I get frustrated. It was obviously one of my biggest concerns when I made the choice to come back and play again. Can I do it? Can I power pitch? Will my body hold up? It will all come into play. The physical part of it, the mental part of it and the emotional part of it will all come into play during the playoffs at one point or another.

Q. You're known for your incredible focus on game day, your tunnel vision. Is that any more elevated for a playoff game than it is during the regular season?

ROGER CLEMENS: Not really, it's not. Because, I guess the best way I can describe it again is being as young as I was in Boston, and throughout the first part of my career, there's pressure of pitching in Boston, same thing in New York. But there's a great deal of pressure for Andy and I to come home and pitch, and that includes both of us. We talked about it when it first happened, when he came home to sign and then talked me into coming and doing it again. You know the guys that are from our area at home in Houston and have come home and pitched and did not do well. Obviously, that's my home. I plan on being there for a long time when I finally do set the ball down. So just there's pressure there each start, and you want to do well for your teammates. There's no difference when I take the mound tomorrow. I think once Andy gets underway tonight after the first or second inning, this is a long time coming for him. He was very disappointed last year when he couldn't come out here and work with Roy and I. So I know he's ready to get back in that situation because he's been in this situation a lot. One of the biggest of big-time pitchers you could want. He's had the experience many times over. So, you know, I'm happy for Andy to get this opportunity, and I'll try and take advantage of it tomorrow.

Q. How are you physically at this point, specifically with the hamstring that's bothered you the last month or so?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I feel great. I got stronger. My body -- I had what you would consider good soreness in the right areas, and my shoulder didn't pay the price for it. So when I was being treated, the person treating me said my hamstring was bad but my shoulder was almost -- equal, too, just because I was using a lot of arm those last three starts. I always have felt if I had a little problem with the elbow, shoulder, I can deal with it. My legs give out, I'm in trouble because I rely on them quite a bit.

Q. When you look at Smoltz, what do you see as the biggest similarities and the biggest differences between you?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I like his mechanics as well. I think he sets himself up over the top of the rubber to bring a pitch in there towards the plate pretty violent. The split, the fastball, he works down great and that entails getting out over your front leg. I like guys that work, you know, straight ahead, that stay tall over the mound. The drop and drive days are pretty much over. You see a few pitchers do it every now and then, but if you're 6'0, you want to use that height, if you're 6'4", you want to use that height. The mechanic part is great for him. I know he's had some problems injury-wise, but his mechanics are conducive to maybe taking some stress off that shoulder and elbow. But he was a reliever before. He started through a lot of innings this year, so maybe that comes with it.

Q. Could you explain "good soreness in the right areas," what that means.

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, when was the last time you went running? How old are you? I'm 43, I can tell you my two miles that I run now, I get good soreness and I get bad soreness. After I turned about 32, I started using that rail in the bus, I started using that now. I know it's there for a reason, just in case. But the soreness that you're supposed to have when you throw a ball over 90 miles an hour 100 times and you're over 40 years old, I guess. I don't know. If you see me with the ice that I have on, my body responds well to ice. Bad soreness is when you can't pull your shoes off, when you know your hamstring's that bad, when you're lazy and you want to pull one off with the back of the heel with your other foot and it hurts, or you can't bend down and tie your shoes, I had that for about three weeks. Good soreness is now I can do that. My shoulder is not overly sore. I'm able to bounce back in two days instead of three or four. I mean, it would be like trying to get the soreness out of my shoulder up until about game time tonight and then declaring myself feeling well to pitch tomorrow. Or sometimes, just part of the year, it takes that long, it's just the way it is. I've come to realize that.

Q. Could you talk about your attention to detail. We saw you yesterday working on the mound after everybody was off. I think Backe was out there, too. Just what you were doing, why you were doing it late in the year?

ROGER CLEMENS: I want to feel the height of the mound, what it looks like. I haven't been on this mound in a while. Just get familiar with your surroundings. You know, I work real hard on my fielding, I have to. I check my leg strength. There's a number of reasons why to do it or why not to do it. You just got to be careful these days because the guys don't want you to tear up their field so it looks pretty for TV. Don't want to upset the ground crew guys.

Q. What do you remember about facing Smoltz the last time the two of you faced each other in the postseason?

ROGER CLEMENS: I can't tell you, brother. I mean, I'm 43, again. I can use that as an excuse, can't I? All I know is it was a happy time because I was able to attain -- it was the '99 World Series, if I'm correct on this. You know, knowing that I was hitting in the dugout and watching one of the best closers, if not the best, come in and close a game down, you know, I was going to attain my first world championship ring, it was an unbelievable feeling.

End of FastScripts...

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