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September 30, 2002

Roger Clemens


THE MODERATOR: First question for Roger.

Q. How do you compare yourself as a pitcher now, compared to the guy who sent the Angels out of the playoffs the last time they were involved in the playoffs back in '96?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I don't know if I'm much different. I think that, you know, I'm still basically a power pitcher. I think my split finger is a little bit better, as far as the make-up of my pitches. Obviously, quite a bit more postseason experience. You know, a lot of experience in that regard.

Q. In that 16-year time frame, when you look back at it, what has enabled you to stay healthy and maintain a high level?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, you have a lot of guys that expect a lot from you. I'm still fortunate to be in the situation that I am right now after, like you said, this is my 19th season, I'm getting out there, take the ball, lead again. That's just the way I'll approach it. It's an opportunity, another opportunity, another challenge for me. Man, it's just an exciting time of year. This is what we play for. We get an opportunity to show some of the guys in our locker room that haven't had this opportunity what it's like and what it's all about. So I would expect for it to be quite exciting for them, too. You see a lot of guys that are excited about -- even the guys that haven't been there in a while, have been in postseason but haven't had an opportunity to go back, are excited about it. That makes it fun, too, as far as the collective group goes.

Q. Your first playoff game, can you talk about was there nervousness, jittery feelings you had to deal with that you didn't feel in a regular-season game?

ROGER CLEMENS: My first postseason experience?

Q. Yes.

ROGER CLEMENS: Wow... I think my first one was -- it was quite exciting. I was fairly relaxed. I mean, I had a lot of family around at the time, looking back. But, you know, only thing I remember about it is it just went extremely fast. When I look back at the tapes, your first everything, your first All-Star Game, your first playoff experience, it just seems like it went by really fast. That's why I made a point to tell and talk about the other day that having come out of Game 4 against Atlanta, here in the World Series, I wanted to get dressed and back on the bench as quickly as I could so I could absorb some of the sights and sounds, see Mo coming in and realize this was going to happen, finally.

Q. Were you nervous? Was it a different experience than a regular-season game?

ROGER CLEMENS: Oh, no question. I think it was different than a regular-season game. But I'm pretty excited about the opportunity as a starter every time I go out. For that reason. You know you're only going to get 30-something times, hopefully, in a season. I'm excited about getting the opportunity to, you know, prove your case every time out. I mean, you have a lot of guys in that clubhouse, again, counting on you to do well. They look forward for you to do that, regardless of age, regardless of experience, regardless of, you know, what other intangibles you bring. They expect you to go out there and do well, and I expect the same from those guys. I think that's the reason why, it's just a lot of expectations around. Some of the smaller things, in talking to the guys in the outfield the last two weeks, we're able to overlook because of the fact that we expect so much from one another. When you come here, regardless of the type of player you are, you're expected to do things on a different level, and you have to do it consistently. I think that's the most enjoyable thing about being here and being a part of this situation. That's probably why I'm still playing.

Q. You faced a lot of different types of lead-off hitters. With the Yankees, you have a guy that's different from all the lead-off hitters. What about the guy you face this series in Eckstein? What is your appreciation for what he does for that team and what's the specific challenge?

ROGER CLEMENS: He'll be ready to play. He's a fiery-type player. Just hearing and listening to some of the interviews with him, how he prepares himself, they did a real in-depth one a few months ago, about the kid, why he does his routine on deck, obviously we noticed that, and all the things he does. He's a scrappy little player. You know, I haven't faced the Angels this year. I've watched them. We just had a pretty nice report on them. I'll take what I know and what I can do and match that up against their guys and the lead-off hitter especially and try to break them down as best I can.

Q. Do you have any memories from that Game 7 in '86 when you beat them, at all?

ROGER CLEMENS: I had the flu and I was glad -- the other thing I remember is, I remember Calvin Schraldi was able to come in and finish the game for me. I was afforded that opportunity in college, Schraldi, he was my teammate. He had a tough go of some games prior to that. I wanted him to have a great experience and not have the guys go out there and jump on him, and that's what happened.

Q. How would you evaluate your season as a whole? Do you like the fact the Angels haven't seen you this year?

ROGER CLEMENS: My season, I'm glad I'm healthy at this point. I felt I've thrown the ball well at times. Just trying to continue to pound the pavement and try and get the job done, any way, shape and form. As far as individually, you know, still quite exciting to chase down some of the guys I'm chasing down at this point in my career. Like I told you all during the season. I really don't know if there's an advantage or disadvantage to facing these guys. I've faced quite a few of their hitters in the past, so I don't look at it as not facing them this year, you know, I don't really take anything or read anything into that.

Q. Can you talk about entering the postseason with this Yankee team in comparison to some of the teams you've been on in the last couple years. It's kind of different than some of the other teams you've played with.

ROGER CLEMENS: Yeah. I think we're stronger in places. We're missing, you know, where we felt we were missing some of the intangibles as far as maybe a leader here or there, as far as, you know, your attitude, guys have picked up the pace there and tried to fill in maybe where like an O'Neill. It's going to be hard to replace Paul, all those water coolers that, you know, at the end of the dugout, you'd see him tear up. But I just thought, I mean, the personality, as far as when we lost Scotty at third base, to pick up Robin in spring training, said that was our guy, going to have a great year coming across town. He's done that. He's been tremendous there. Real close to the same personality as Scott, you know, real easy-going and funny in the clubhouse. They both play that position well. Just experience. You know, experience for Soriano, where he's at and the year that he had, he's been walking on air the entire year. It's been great to see the year he's had. I think we're deeper in our bullpen, depending on how Joe, like he's already set out the starting rotation. Now, with a possibility of Duque and Weaver in the bullpen, you've got guys that can do so much. I mean, they can come in and pick up a start early, go a long distance, pitch one or two hitters and be effective. I think our bullpen's even stronger. Karsay out there. Everybody picked up the pace when Mo went down. That's what we've done best on this club, we try not to skip a beat when somebody goes down. Those guys are, you know, as far as the starters go, are my MVPs. Those guys out there, they allow me to go out there and turn it loose for as long as I can, whatever that might be, a pitch count, an inning, whatever it might be, I know I've got tremendous help out there. I don't have to worry about trying to pace myself. I've seen the last of my 130- 140-pitch ball games, that helps a lot.

Q. As a guy who strikes out a lot of hitters, facing a team who strikes out less than any other team in the year, does it present any special problems for you?

ROGER CLEMENS: I don't really worry about strikeouts except in certain situations when I need them. Then you try, as a pitcher out there, you try and apply pressure that way. You try to put the pressure on the hitter. You know, I don't -- the strikeouts, if they come in bunches, that's great. But I'm not looking forward to trying to strike out a lot of guys. If I get two strikes, I'll go to a pitch maybe that will help induce that a little bit. But I got a guy on third, I was in a jam the other day in a game, all those situations, when you need a strikeout there, in big spots. But we are very aware of that fact, that these guys put the ball in play.

Q. Can you talk about how this is a different place in October, Yankee Stadium, and how maybe it's more difficult for somebody who hasn't been here before, like the Angels?

ROGER CLEMENS: I think you'd have to maybe ask their guys that. We know what to expect here. We do feel it's a nice -- a tremendous home-field advantage. It has been throughout the playoffs. Again, you don't have to look any further back than last year's World Series, Game 3, 4 and 5. That pretty much explains it. It doesn't get much more exciting than that. I'll go back to what I said earlier, I'm looking forward to seeing some of the -- just trying to look at some of my teammates that haven't experienced that and see what kind of expressions they have and what they take from it. I've certainly enjoyed it.

Q. You've had good success against Garrett Anderson and Tim Salmon. How do you approach those two, particularly?

ROGER CLEMENS: They're dangerous. They have some dangerous guys in that line-up. Like we talked about earlier, they don't strike out a lot. So, you know, I've looked at the numbers here in the last couple days, and how I've faced guys and what I've done. But to me, I have to go out and do it again. You don't rest on that. So I'll have to do it again and, you know, prove to those guys that, you know, I want to get it done some way. You treat those guys with respect at the plate, all the hitters, and, you know, I know it will be a tough battle. I'll battle them hard. But I faced, you know, I've been around a long time. I've faced a lot of their guys. They've had some great players over there in the past. I really don't care to talk about what success I've had against them or how I'm going to try to pick them apart. Just know that hopefully it will be exciting, a lot of fun, and there will be some good battles, I'm sure.

Q. You've been with Joe Torre for four years now. What sets him apart from other managers?

ROGER CLEMENS: Joe's just pretty much up front. He shows a lot of confidence in his players. He expects a lot from us. Not a lot of rules, but what rules he does have are very important for him as far as on the respect side of it. But, you know, I would be hard-pressed to say any of these guys or anyone that plays for Joe Torre, the respect factor is there because he's done it before, he's played at a high level and done some great things. I enjoy sitting on the bench when I'm not playing and listen to Mel and Joe and Zim, all their talk, especially during certain situations of a game when their wheels really have to start turning and he really has to step up and manage a certain part of the ball game. You know, those are interesting talks that go on. Other than the other talks that they're having during the game and the stories that Zim and Joe have, but just the respect. Even when he's not in passing, saying something to me, I can catch him saying something to one of the other players. Or if a mistake has been made or something that he dislikes, he's got you right there and correcting it right on the spot. So he leaves no room for error. Whether you like it or you don't, you know where he stands with you. You can appreciate that.

Q. Does coming up short last year, so close, does that still motivate you now?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I think so. I said it last year. I think that not being the defending world champions now, when you take a peek at your championship rings, I think it makes you appreciate it more. Sometimes you can get spoiled in certain situations because your expectations are so high and you reached those goals. Then to come up short, it was just depressing because we knew we were going to lose two or three pieces of a great team, and we did that. Losing, in general, it was just, you know, a big downer. So, again, that's why, you know, our bar is set so high. Our expectations are set so high. I enjoy that. I think all the guys enjoy that because your consistency and level of play, you have to maintain that all throughout the season. But, yeah, I think that -- I know that when I look at my rings now, I appreciate them a lot more in that aspect of it.

Q. Do you really relish this time of year, the opportunity just to represent your team in the postseason?

ROGER CLEMENS: Definitely. This is the best time of year, the most excitement around the city. You know, not only do we have high expectations, our fans and the city, they have high expectations for us also. We're supposed to go out there and shine and do well. But we have to play well. We have to do the little things that we do well, at this point in the season, because we know these other teams will. Then if they make a mistake, we need to jump on it. You know, that's what makes us the Yankees.

Q. Do you feel as good as you could be for right now?

ROGER CLEMENS: I feel great. I don't care if I was hurting or not, I'm not gonna tell you all (smiling). I've got to go out there and lead and get it done. That's what we're going to do, Jorge and I will go out there and try to set a tone early and make adjustments accordingly. I'll rely on a lot of guys in that dugout to help us through it. So looking forward to it. A lot of guys, I think, that are at least three or four guys that had to work throughout the year. If you're feeling a little bit tired maybe, not now, you can see that everybody else has got that second wind today. They'll have -- they'll have a little more hop in their step tomorrow, too, once this place gets packed and everything that we need here.

Q. Joe talked about you still being a power pitcher at 40. As you head into this postseason here, as the clock ticks, do you ignore it? Do you look at it and appreciate, "Well, this may be the last time," or do you have a clock that has five years down the road, the way you are?

ROGER CLEMENS: I don't look down the road at all now. I just go by how my body feels. There were days when it felt 40, which was dodging balls in Colorado, they were hitting me. The one in Detroit. You feel it. Usually, I'm able to shake those aches and pains off a little easier. I'm a power pitcher. I do the work to allow me to do that. In doing so, I expect my body to, you know, give me something back. But I don't think about the clock ticking. I don't think about what's going to happen next year. It's just too important, too much fun. I've got, you know, my guys on this team coming up and talking to me about this time of year. This was two weeks ago, as we were drawing closer to it, how excited they were. Just in talking to them, it gets my engine going again and it's exciting. To have the Skipper throw you out of the gate first to try and set a tone, it makes it even more gratifying, so...

End of FastScripts�.

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