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October 15, 2004

Roger Clemens


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

Q. Some thoughts about going out there in a situation where you're down 2-0. It's not a must-win, but it's close.

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I agree with you. I've been in this position before, and, I mean, it's no different than -- I think I can find a number of situations, they might not be playoff situations, but I've been in pretty tough situations where you're backed in the corner. But it's nice to be back at home. I think the guys, I ran into a few of the guys coming in here, they'll go get some rest. We got in late. A number of us had a full morning with Cammy's (Caminiti) deal. They'll get some rest and we'll start focusing back on baseball and what we need to do here at home.

Q. At this stage of your career, does that ever get inside your head, your team being down 0-2, have any added pressure based on the situation your team is in, or can you really block all that out?

ROGER CLEMENS: I think that I would expect to be anxious tomorrow. I would expect -- last night is my most important night of sleep and I didn't get much of it. On the plane, you kind of process how you want things to work out and how you want to try and break down their lineup, having pitched against them during the season and watched them the first two games, you process that. I guess to answer your question, if I was maybe like in my early 20s, my first three or four years, which really I'm very fortunate, I had playoff experience there and big-game experience there and in a wonderful baseball town, who are very passionate about their baseball, too, so there was a lot riding on my shoulders when I was young. I'm sure I'll be anxious and I'll have to make good pitches. I hope my body responds. I think that's the most important thing, that my body reacts the way I want it to, so when I need a pitch in a certain location with a certain velocity or whatever I'm trying to do at that point in time, that my body, I'm able to do that. That's what I rely on, too. As far as getting up or down, man, I'm excited just for the guys when I look around. I'm excited that I'm able to share this with a lot of family. They're all giddy about this. They're really pumped. They love it that we're here. We've been doing it, I think everyone in this room that has been following this team, knows that the last month and a half we've been doing it, we've been pitching with the back of our hair on fire, trying to put it together any way we can. The last two weeks, I think I've had my spikes on more than ever as far as maybe going to the bullpen to pitch an inning or a hit or an out or whatever. Roy (Oswalt) is the same way. I know some of the other guys on the staff are in the same situation, to offer help when we know as well as anybody that we're a little tired in some areas and beat up in other areas. But we continue to push forward.

Q. You've been wearing that World Series ring a lot more often lately. Can you talk about just what you've been trying to share with these guys as far as what it takes to be a champion.

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I think that we have some champions on this team. Maybe they're not World Series champions, but now that we've progressed forward and we're able to get through Atlanta and come back home now with a chance to take the next step, if you will, I just wear it every now and then. This is the time of year. It brings back good memories. It brings back a lot of hard effort that I put forth to attain this ring. It was a long time coming. When I see Viz (Jose Vizcaino), Viz wears his ring a little bit and we talk about it. It stirs up conversation amongst the other guys who don't have these rings. They'll always be special to me, whether they come here or with any other club that I've been a part of, whether it be a league ring or World Series ring. They're special any time you open up your trophy case or my little guys grab them and look them over, and they ask questions about them. So it's no different in the locker room with some of these young guys. It's good to talk about.

Q. Is it in your mind that this is your last October?

ROGER CLEMENS: I don't know if I look at it that way. I catch myself every once in a while thinking about it, that this could be it. But when you're in situations that I've been in over the last few months, it's hard to sit there and ponder those thoughts, because now here you are right back in the corner a little bit where you have to almost be picture-perfect. So those are things I look forward to. I have a lot on my plate, like I have this year, like I will this off-season. I won't look too far ahead just yet.

Q. If it is your last October, what would be the perfect good-bye for Roger Clemens?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I've already had it. I mean, to share my emotions and the feeling I had last October with the fans in Florida, the World Series fans, the Yankee fans, and the type of atmosphere that has been created here at home already just around town, I've already been -- you know, all the work that you do and the fond memories that you have of not only your playing career, but I've really tried to make it a point to - and always have - to make sure I share it with not only family but friends and the public of the town that I play in. That's why we do it. That's why I enjoy so much what I do and why I work so hard at it. Having said all that, they've given me back so much more. I mean, the fans, all of y'all have made my career extremely special. I'm mot going to look in the rear-view mirror. If and when this is all done, I'll have a big smile on my face. I didn't leave anything behind, and I'm not going to be one of those guys I wish I could keep going. The stories that I told y'all way back when, the short talk that I had with Michael (Jordan) and Wayne Gretzky and Emmitt Smith, those guys that I talked to when I was at Michael's tournament, those guys, I think some of those guys, they'd be out there playing in a wheelchair if you'd allow them to. I love the game, too. I have a passion for it, but there's just some other things that, even though I'm here at home playing, I'm still missing, I'm still missing some neat things that I need to be a part of. But that won't diminish my effort the rest of the way, and it hadn't affected me this season, nor will I allow it.

Q. When, if at all, do you feel 42 years old?

ROGER CLEMENS: About 25 minutes after they take me out of every game. Few more bags of ice on my body. When you have an opportunity to somewhat relax and think back about what just happened in the game and how you could be better and what you could have done differently, those are the times when I feel 42. In the same right, I've been lucky because I've had guys like Andy Pettitte, some of the younger pitches here with me like Roy, take the run to I-10, the two-mile run to 1-10, drag me around the city and to other cities, keep me going out there to the mound. I've been pretty lucky. I've had some really nice teammates, who enjoy to work extra hard and not to be embarrassed about doing it.

Q. You've had success against the Cardinals. Would you talk about the offense they have going now, especially with Larry Walker being added.

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, they just -- they can do it all. I mean, they have guys that can set the table. Larry Walker is really not a table-setter because he can hit the ball out of the ballpark and do so many things. He's not your National League number two hitter, what you would see. He's more an American League two hitter that I'm used to seeing. It's the type of lineup that, you know, there's six guys, at least six guys in the lineup that can hurt you with the long ball if you make a mistake. Obviously, every hitter in the lineup can take you out of the ballpark, take you out of this ballpark anyway. It's conducive for that. But they're powerful. Not to say that our guys aren't. I mean, I really enjoy seeing the middle of our -- the front of our lineup and middle of our lineup coming up, too, because something can happen and they can do some damage, also. But you'll have to make pitches throughout that lineup, and that's the bottom line. You have to make pitches, you have to stay -- Brad and I will have to stay in tune with what we're trying to do for the entire two, three hours, whatever it might be. And you have to focus on that, you have to make pitches this time of year to get guys out, get strikes and expand the zone as best you can.

Q. You've always had success in your career claiming the inside part of the plate. Watching the first two games, do you think those Cardinal hitters are a little too comfortable?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I always feel as a pitcher everybody's too comfortable, you know (smiling). That's your job as a pitcher. Their job as a hitter is to be comfortable; your job as a pitcher is you don't want them to feel comfortable up there. But I just have to -- the guys that are important to me are going to be Brad (Ausmus) and my man behind the plate tomorrow. I think that's the most important thing. I'm going to find out where I can go to get a crucial strike. If we're going high, for the high strike, which I'm still afforded that luxury, that I can pitch up in the zone when I need to. And if you get that strike that's a little more up in the zone, then you can expand. That's what you try and do. You'll find out what I have to work with, and I'll go from there. I mean, I'm not too worried about guys -- if you make good pitches, you should be able to make some outs. You'll notice during the game that if I'm making good pitches and guys are getting their nose out where they might not should be, then you'll have to adjust. Simple as that. I know who my two most important guys are. I respect those guys as hitters and know who's coming up to the plate, that's for sure. Brad and I will have to be on the same page and my guy behind the plate will definitely have to be on the same page.

Q. When you guys beat Atlanta, did you stop at all and think about what it would be like to play in the World Series against the Yankees or Red Sox?

ROGER CLEMENS: I'm smart enough not to -- I'm not going to look that far ahead. But don't think that every time I turn a corner or pick up a phone or I'm getting messages from those guys up there, friends from New York, friends from Boston, and they're telling me their dream matchup, which would just be another ulcer for me, probably (smiling). But I'm just, you know, like I said, you sit here, and to be in this situation again, to have an opportunity to be in postseason again is just a dream come true. To have it happen here at home when I thought last year was my last, it would be just amazing to take the next step forward to be in a World Series. And obviously I see out in front of me both teams, and both of them are awesome teams in great cities, cities that I love to play for and I love to play in. Just have fond memories of both, that's for sure.

Q. When the All-Star Game was here, it seemed like the entire focus was on you. You had a lot on your shoulders, may have spread yourself too thin. Did you learn anything from that and are there pit-falls to learn from that time around for what you can do here?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, yeah, I spread myself extremely thin, but it was very much worth the cause. I mean, I totally enjoyed everything that I participated in away from the game itself. I did not have a lot of fun in the game. I was not looking forward to some certain situations. But I'll speak to that later. I don't think this is the time to talk about that now. I think everybody saw what happened. I was not comfortable out there. But bottom line is I'm the one that committed to everything, and I wanted to do that. And I thought it was great, everything other than the game, and I put our guys in a hole to where we might not be able to come back from that game, that was the only downfall.

Q. How far into game day do you know if you have your best stuff?

ROGER CLEMENS: By the time I finish up that long toss program I do in front of the bullpen out there, I have a pretty good indication how quick my arm is responding, those small muscles, my quick fiber muscles that I draw on. I don't know how alive my fastball will be and things of that nature. My legs so far have been responding well. They've stayed under me. They did fatigue a little bit when I came back on that short day's rest. But there were some tough innings there that had to push a little harder off the mound and do some things with my lower half that I just wasn't afforded to sit back and conserve some energy. Having said that, I also know that when -- I've had times where I've been lethargic in my warm-up but I'm lathered, have a sweat working, same things I preach to the young guys as far as having routine. I get out of there after, I throw a quality pen instead of a quantity and get out of there. Because I know once I take the main stage with the electricity and the adrenaline rush that you'll have, things will change. It's happened several times with Brad, again, I'll rely on him. He'll say, "Once the ball gets to the dirt, you have your late life. You're fine. Let's just go to work." I need some information some days. There are some days that you don't feel it up there and that's what causes you to overthrow and do the things you normally do. But to generate all your energy and emotions into one area is a good thing, and it's something you have to learn over time.

Q. Can you describe the difference in atmosphere in this series and a Boston-Yankees series?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, let me just -- I was a little surprised of how quiet Atlanta was. This place, when the top is closed, is real loud. It reminds me of Minnesota, with our fans here and the roof on top here. So I think you get spoiled a little bit by the opening ceremonies, what we do in Yankee Stadium and in Fenway, from what I can remember. It's pretty much a show, is what it is. I remember just in St. Louis the other day, I told Andy, I said, "If we can get there, I would like to get there to play one of the other clubs just so the guys can experience that, just to have the experience." I would just be like anyone else, one of y'all possibly, just really looking around, taking it in to see what my teammates are thinking, to see if they're enjoying it. The last few games here at home, it was loud. It's a nice feeling; it's a neat feeling to have. I mean, Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5 at Yankee Stadium against the Diamondbacks, I thought the upper deck was going to come down at times, it was so loud. When you're out there pitching, like I was in Game 3, with the scenario with 9/11 and the president being there throwing out the first pitch, the peoples' emotions were running extremely high, I could feel them. Being out there on the mound, you could feel the base of the fans just hit you. Same situation here. It's gotten extremely loud. You can tell our fans are hungry and are excited about what's going on.

End of FastScripts...

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