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October 6, 2004

Roger Clemens


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger Clemens.

Q. Roger, at the start of the year, it was speculated you would retire. Yet you went to Houston and won 18 games, played well today. Are you still thinking about retiring, are you reconsidering?

ROGER CLEMENS: Yes. The way I felt in that first inning, sir, I thought I might have to right on the spot (laughter). No, I just feel real fortunate. I told the guys yesterday in here that interviewed me that it's all icing on the cake right now, and I'm just happy and feel fortunate that I can play this game and have the opportunity to play at home. No reason to bring everything back up that I talked about, why I came back to play. But there was a number of reasons, and obviously the main reason is I'm using a glove out there with Andy's (Pettitte) name on it and I'm glad he's here to watch this. I wish he was pitching with us.

Q. Talk about Andy but also about Bagwell, Biggio, Kent, guys who never won one. How special is it to be with them?

ROGER CLEMENS: Again, I'll repeat what I said yesterday: I hope there's an urgency that they feel right now to get it done. You know, it was no different today. I felt like the stuff that I had, I had to will my way through that game and sometimes it takes more than talent or more than a 95 mile-an-hour fastball; you have to will it. That's what those guys are doing. I watched it for a month and a half now, the record we've been able to put up, the won/loss record we've been able to put up, to watch our senior guys play, it's been a real treat for me, too, because I can see a little urgency in their eyes.

Q. Can you come back on three days now? Are you okay?

ROGER CLEMENS: Yeah, I'm tired. I mean, that's difficult. Like I said, I haven't been out there in a week. That was difficult. But I'll ice again tonight and get my body ready, and I haven't even thought about that. They haven't approached me with any of that yet.

Q. Are you recovered from whatever it was on Sunday?

ROGER CLEMENS: Yeah, I woke up today and felt fine. Again, I thank the doctors, our team doctors taking immediate action on me the other day when I was going to pitch and wasn't able to. Phil pulled me from that start just before noon. They put that IV into me, and I think that my sickness would have lingered a little bit longer if they hadn't taken that kind of action that quick.

Q. When you went out to start the fourth inning, would you share what you were talking about when you came out?

ROGER CLEMENS: Yeah, I believe that was the time I asked Tim (McClelland) that if we could somehow get out of the inning, if we could doctor up the front of that mound. It was tearing up extremely bad. It was more dirt than clay. He made a tremendous hole out there. I was getting a hot spot on the top of my foot. With everything else going on, not being out there, my balance, trying to find my balance point, break my hand and doing everything else that I concentrate and work on out there, I was turning my ankle and my balance was off. So I did have to do it, it was tore up so bad. You saw their pitcher came in, he asked for it. It was just tore up extremely bad.

Q. The Astros have been saying all week these aren't the same Astros, those aren't the same Braves. How important was it to get off to a good start and score runs?

ROGER CLEMENS: Very important to get off to a great start. To take one here and now have Roy (Oswalt) going to take the mound tomorrow for us, he's been outstanding. He's been, again, everything that we could have asked him to be. But I can't answer that question. I mean, you're asking me questions that I ask my teammates, when we go home, how loud it is, I hear the fans with two strikes and they get loud, the stadium gets loud and, "Was it like this last year?" The guys, I say, "No, this is unbelievable." You have to ask those guys about what happened here in years past. I don't think they're going to look back now because we have so many different cast of characters on this ballclub, so I don't think it's going to figure in.

Q. You talk about if things aren't working, you go to Plan B. Is walking guys part of Plan B?

ROGER CLEMENS: A few guys, but I got myself in a couple of tough situations. But in games like this, I can't allow, when I feel that I'm close, in the strike zone, I can't allow myself - and I continue to tell Brad (Ausmus) but he knows because we talk about it several times throughout the year - I cannot come to the middle. I'm not going to allow what's going on in that game to dictate me coming to the middle. I'm going to be a little hardheaded and continue to hit my spots and hopefully that will be good enough. Other times - I talked about it yesterday - you have to pitch a little bit. Some guys made some nice plays behind me. It was just a nice effort. It was, again, it was not work, it was more of a grind, and it worked out for us today.

Q. What I meant was the third inning when you got to Thomas. Was that on purpose?

ROGER CLEMENS: The entire situation, I mean, I can't tell you any more than I just was not going to give him a hittable ball. Try to keep the crowd out, when you pitch on the road, try to keep the fans out of it and minimize your mistakes. I put myself in a couple bad situations, and not only here, but I think over the course of my career, I've shown my manager I can get out of some of my problems. There are going to be times where you get burnt. Everybody in this room knows it; you've seen it. It's the same thing I did all year, I pitched around some guys in this league to hopefully get to the next guy, and then I have to attack him. Just the way it is.

Q. When you came off the mound in the third, were you frustrated with the strike zone, the mound, the time off?

ROGER CLEMENS: Everything. Everything. I mean, it was everything. I mean, I can't -- I think it was a lack of, again, not being out there for a week, you just want your body to react and feel, and you want to be sharp just to give some life to your teammates. That's what you do as a starting pitcher, you try and take command of the game and get that momentum and hang on to it. I was able to wiggle my way through a few innings there, and we put some numbers on the board and here we go. So it was nice.

Q. Not to focus on your past, but your record in Game 1s is not that good. Getting a victory, what's the difference?

ROGER CLEMENS: It's meaningless. I could care less about what my win-loss record is as long as my team wins, or as long as I pitch well enough to win, give our guys a chance to win. I could care less what my record is. I've done this time and time again, year after year, and here we are again. Doesn't get any easier.

Q. By your standard, how good was your split today?

ROGER CLEMENS: It showed up. It was nice. It moved and I had a decent speed on it, when I didn't get underneath it, and I had to be real careful with that as that mound tore up, because my back ankle was collapsing. If you know anything about pitching, you want to stay tall and use height to an advantage. I was collapsing on my back leg a little. Those drop and drive days are over. I was sitting down. When you sit down, they're flat. A couple guys missed them or topped them, and I was able to get away with it. It's just a good reminder to get back on top and get that pitch where you need it.

Q. You won 18 games in the National League. Is there any difference pitching in the two leagues?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I think the biggest difference is all the coaches are screaming at me when I'm in the hole, I have to go up and hit. I'm down there messing around or changing jerseys. They remind me when I go up to the plate. That would be the main situation. I think it's somewhat of a faster-paced game. I think there's guys over here that run and do more things here than my time in the American League, where the teams I faced, they do sit back and wait for a three-run homer. They try and hurt you with a big number. There are leadoff guys in the other league that can do it, not to say there's not a few guys that can do it here, but you don't see it over here, you don't see a Soriano or some of your shortstops over here don't have 40 home runs or such like that.

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