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October 22, 2003

Roger Clemens


THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Roger Clemens.

Q. Roger, can you talk about the final moments, getting the strikeout for your last, perhaps your last professional game, and the way the crowd and the Marlins' team and everybody on the field responded to you?

ROGER CLEMENS: It was great. At that point, everything seemed to really slow down and seemed a little bit in slow motion. As focused as I was at the beginning of the game, I wasn't ready for all the flashes at the beginning of the game. I've been in World Series situations before, and that caught me by surprise a little bit, when I veered back on the first pitch of the game. The stadium just lit up. I could tell that the fans were enjoying the last couple pitches, too, because the same thing was happening. I was able -- you just see it, when everything like that happens. So many people were using flash photography, and it was quite amazing. I think everybody started understanding that it was gonna be my last inning or my last hitter and my last pitch. You're right in the middle of a game. We had so many outs still left, and that's what my focus was once I got to the dugout. Then, again, Zim and some of the coaches shoved me out to get out there and the fans were cheering. It was very nice. I was very appreciative of that. It kind of just hits you a little bit, everything that's happened over your career. I was able to go in and sit in the office in there and reflect for about five minutes. Kind of everything did kind of really pass -- cross my mind real quick. Then I went back into my other routine; went in there and cleaned up, got the stuff off my body, the heat off my body, started icing, then watched us make a great comeback to get us back in the game.

Q. Noticing the flash photography as you did, how often or how many times during your career, were you so locked in on the field, had you noticed something that was not on the field?

ROGER CLEMENS: Game 3, after all the tragedies happened, during the World Series, and 0-1, I stopped my warm-up to watch President Bush throw that pitch. I wanted to see that. I thought it was a pretty special moment and it was. Then the pitch that I threw at the stadium there, I was ready for it because I watched it happen, you know, 15 minutes earlier when President Bush threw that pitch. I was prepared for that. I wasn't prepared for it tonight. It didn't affect me any other way other than I just -- I kind of -- it threw me back just a little bit, too.

Q. Roger, thanks for coming in so late. What did it mean to see the other team rise in the dugout, Pudge applauding, McKeon tipping his hat even to you? What did that mean?

ROGER CLEMENS: Yeah, when you battle like I have over my career and you get the respect from your peers, that's all you can ask for. I appreciate that a lot. It really shows, I think, that everybody understands what was going on after the fact and I think it shows that they love to compete, too. I can only appreciate that fact, that I love to compete and I wanted to make sure that I tipped my cap back to them. I think Pudge knew, when I went to the plate for the first time, he mentioned something to me. You get down to business.

Q. Like a lot of great pitchers and yourself included, they always say they have to get to you early or they're not gonna get to you at all. Can you talk about kicking in the reserve tank and seeing Weaver - I don't know if you saw Weaver - but they were getting somebody ready?

ROGER CLEMENS: I wasn't worried about if somebody was getting ready or not. Just a quick adjustment. I was trying to make an adjustment on the run. My arm angle was too low. I was able to make that adjustment late. They hit a couple really good pitches, to be honest with you. At that point, I was just trying to minimize the inning. I threw a nice, high fastball, and they hit it out. I was trying to elevate even further to try and elevate that pitch a little further. But once that happens, once they get three runs on the board, that's it. You just got to try and get stingy. I came in, talked to Mel. Andy was right there. We were talking that I felt with the towel mound, it's completely different than the bullpen mound. I needed to raise my arm angle and I did that. Made an adjustment. It made such a huge difference in my stuff. I was able to start pitching a game like I was capable of pitching. As much as I was working on that, I was working on trying to hit that hole at my first at-bat to get us back in the game. I was late on that swing. Then when I came out of the game, that was the focus, that this is great and I appreciate all the ovation and everything, but we still have some outs to play. Joe preaches that. We play nine innings. Sometimes we have to play more, like tonight. But we play, that's our goal, is to play nine innings and play every out. We were able to do that tonight. We just came up a little short.

Q. The strikeout there in your last pitch was really representative of your career and a really special moment. You pitched well enough to win, just weren't able to do so. Ultimately, when you look back on this game, how will you view it?

ROGER CLEMENS: I competed. I left everything -- I worked as hard as I could to a great line-up. I was able to keep the top part of the line-up off the base and try and keep the score down. Their guy was tough against our hitters. I mean, he pitched great. And then we were able to come back there and tie it up late. So that's the game, I've had so many of those games where I've trailed and we've come back. To me, again, I'm not -- I could care less if I give up one, two, three right there. I know at one point I got to stop the scoring to give us a chance in this game. If I wanted to stay in the game, I was gonna have to do that. So, you know, if we would have got to my spot in the order, I think Joe would have pinched hit for me there. Ruben was on deck, I think everybody saw that. They made the out so I was able to go out for the seventh and get them out that inning and give us another opportunity.

Q. What did Pudge say to you specifically and can you talk about your slide into second base? It looked like your life may have flashed before your eyes?

ROGER CLEMENS: I stayed up as long as I could. I didn't really care if the ball hit or not. At that point, I was figuring things out on the base pads. Maz told me, "Watch Pudge throw behind you." I wasn't gonna slide back, let that ball hit me, too. People slide in, other guys drop knees down, keep you from the base. So when you're out there, you're thinking about everything that could happen and what you would do because of that. I wasn't running on the pitch, and Jeter hit a slow grounder. I was basically focused on the shortstop. Came across the bag. I went out. As soon as he released it, soon as he got ready to throw it, I got as close as I could and hit the dirt. I kind of shut my eyes and just slid. You know, whatever...

Q. What did Pudge say to you?

ROGER CLEMENS: He tapped me on my leg and I think he said, "Nice career," or something like that. I said hello to him first, told him I enjoyed it. I think I said, "It's been fun battling." He said, "It's been great." We had a number of times where we faced each other in Arlington, and some of these guys up here were younger and bat boys. He was always really great to these sons of mine when they would -- he would mess with them up there, when they'd run up there to get the bat and stuff. He's been really good to these guys.

Q. One of the things that I've never heard you speak about is the fact that someone once told me that your success in your great career has been your ability to retain umpire mechanics. Could you talk about that, how well you know what umpires need to see and how to work a game?

ROGER CLEMENS: I'm not sure, did you say about my mechanics?

Q. The umpire mechanics, what umpires --

ROGER CLEMENS: Umpires, I think there's two or three pitchers that do that, too. I mean, I try and look -- I don't think it's any secret, the guy behind the plate, as far as my catcher, Jorge is my No. 1 guy. My No. 2 guy, I need to know who's working the plate. It's very important you know who's working the plate. I've been able to, over 20 years, been able to keep some information on our umpires. It makes it easier because you go out and you really find out, some guys see the ball on the outside of the plate or the inside of the plate. They're all human. They see the strike zone differently. So those guys are very important. I need to know where to go get a strike at a certain point, and as much information over my career I've had on hitters, I have just as much on umpires. I've gotten to the point now where the young kid working the umpire's room will come in and tell me who's behind the plate. So whether it be the first day of the series or the third. It's real important, just kind of doing your homework.

Q. When you consider you've been a fighter all your career, was there a certain satisfaction tonight despite the loss, the way you came back from the first inning and pitched the rest of the game?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I mean, it's what I do, it's what I've been taught to do. I think it's easy when you pitch with a lead with the guys. But to give yourself a chance to tie that game up, I had to try and get stingy. I was able to make the adjustment and it worked out tonight. I hate the fact that I gave the crowd momentum early, and gave their guys a little momentum early. That's one thing you try and guard against, especially on the road, which, in the playoffs, I've been able to do that. Joe's put me up on the road quite a bit and I've had to try and keep the crowd as quiet as I could. So it's pretty much it. I mean, that's been my make-up my entire career anyway. I'm gonna fight and scratch even when I don't have my good stuff.

Q. Would you be ready to pitch again if you were called on for relief?

ROGER CLEMENS: Yeah, Joe's already mentioned that to me, I'll be in the pen here late. Once we get back home, I'll be in the pen. I'll be ready for that. I've been in the pen before in the playoffs. I haven't been used. Been ready, but haven't been used. I think I pitched one time in the bullpen.

Q. Would you be able to get up emotionally for it?

ROGER CLEMENS: Not at all. Once you put your cleats on and get focused on what you need to do, I'll be fine. My body feels great. I was able to get through that game pretty comfortably after the long 40-something-pitch first inning, I think. So it worked out, worked out great. You guys got anything?

THE MODERATOR: Want to introduce them?

ROGER CLEMENS: You guys got anything you want to say?

KACY CLEMENS: Thank you for watching over my dad for the last 40 years -- I mean 20 years (laughter). And we'll take it from here.

End of FastScripts...

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