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October 5, 2004

Roger Clemens


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger.

Q. Would you talk about how you're feeling and your expectations and how it will affect you tomorrow.

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I feel much better today than I did the other day, when I was getting ready to go out pitch and made the decision about game time, I tried to hold them off till noon so I could get fluids back in me. But my body feels better. I would expect with another 24 hours I'll feel even better.

Q. After a full season with the Astros, have your expectations been met and is this what you expected when you came back?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, the season was quite a few ups and downs. But just to have the opportunity to be here and have the chance to be a world champion is all you can ask for. To be in this situation again after last year, and after my off-season when I thought I was pretty much done playing this game that I truly love, to be sitting here now and representing my hometown and a bunch of great guys in that clubhouse, I'm excited about it. It's another new challenge, another step. It's really amazing, the stretch run that we put together as a team. To hit like we did, and when we weren't hitting, to pitch like we did, and have everything work out just right for us to get a ticket to this dance to try and win. I mean, it's the only thing that keeps you going. You know, there are times when I wasn't out there actually working, physically working, that I just had a smile on my face, just couldn't believe some of the things that were happening to get us in the position to win and get here, get to this point where we're at today.

Q. The new head coach of the Atlanta Hawks had a few nice things to say about your friendship. We would like to know how you got to know each other?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, we've known each other for a long time. He's just a great person. He loves the game. We love each other's game that we both represent. We've had a lot of fond memories in different times that we've had an opportunity to talk. So it's been great. I wish him well, also.

Q. Are you still not 100 percent, and did the sickness affect your preparation, or did it help you?

ROGER CLEMENS: I was able to move around a little bit last night. I got up, had my oldest son throw with me and do some things I needed to do, and I'll do some more things today to make sure that my body feels right. But I'm sure with all the excitement and everything else that will kick in tomorrow, that I'll be ready. However I feel, I'm going to make the most of it. I've pitched with different aches and pains throughout the years. Once you get out on the mound, it's all about executing, making pitches, and getting guys out. So I'm not too concerned about that. I just want to make sure that my body has the fluid in it that I need for that to happen. Like I said, I would have probably pitched the other day. I think the doctor -- my blood pressure was off the chart and he was worried about that. I just didn't have any fluids in my body, or I thought I would have had a chance to go in that game.

Q. You had some disappointments in Game 1s over the years. Do you have a theory as to why?

ROGER CLEMENS: No. I mean, I don't -- I could care less about what happened in the past. But I have fond memories from my entire postseason experience. I've been in the postseason with a number of teams now and a number of different teams, different type of caliber teams, different teams, the way we shape up as far as hitting or we're more dominant pitching, we're supposed to take over on the pitching side of it. What we lacked in defense and what we were going to make up there. I'm not too concerned about it. We're going to go out there and try to win.

Q. Can you describe the relationship you have Roy Oswalt and how that has impacted you.

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I've learned a lot from Roy, too, I wanted to get to know him each and every day that we had an opportunity to work closely on a maybe not so public basis. When you're in spring training, you can do that a little more and find out about a guy. I had the opportunity to watch him work the entire season. I enjoyed the way he approaches the game. I think that, like Andy (Pettitte), he has a base that if he wants to pitch for a long time, he's going to be able to do that because he has the wherewithal, he has the mental make-up to do that, very stern, stubborn-type individual. Really stayed with his convictions. As far as the pitch selection, how he wants to work a game, what he knows -- what he has working for him the best on that given day, he sticks to his guns pretty well. I like the work that he does behind the scenes. Everybody likes to see what he does when he goes out on the mound. For me to monitor and to watch what a guy does behind the scenes tells me a lot about Roy, how he gets himself ready to pitch. But we've had time to watch each other. I mean, he's definitely a guy when he's pitching, I can sneak upstairs and watch two or three innings on the screen, and try and draw something from him because he has an electric fastball, and when he's using both sides of the plate, keeping guys off base, off balance, I can get some good reads from hitters from him. I was able to do that this year, and he fell right into -- jumped right in line as far as picking up the pace. He knew that neither he or I could afford to stub our toe. Once we lost a couple of our other horses, went down; that we had to be basically perfect. He accepted that challenge as well. He's fun to watch.

Q. From the point you knew you'd be pitching in the National League this year, how did you approach your hitting? When did you start?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I don't think Drayton (McLane) brought me here to hit, worry about my hitting. It's not fun because you don't practice enough. I'm a perfectionist. I've always been that way. Same way with my game on the mound. When I feel I'm out there, working against guys somewhat half my age but they still expect you to have your game at the highest level, it takes a lot of work mentally and physically to do that. But from day one of spring training, we're in the cages early, running and working on our game. Bunting and hitting helped probably to win me one or two ballgames. We tried to narrow it down to they say four or five games, it could help a starting pitcher if you could handle a bat. I was fortunate. I think I won a few bats from the other starters. That was the most prideful thing I had going, that I wouldn't embarrass myself up there. It's not a lot of fun because, again, you don't -- that's not where most of your time is put in, in that cage, in the batter's box, but we do work on it.

Q. Does this feel much different than the last several years going to the postseason with the Yankees?

ROGER CLEMENS: I think every postseason is going to be a little different. Whether you're with the same team or a different team like I am this year, again, everything that has happened this year, including this run, has been just above and beyond what you could imagine. Having the opportunity to pitch at home, when I really wasn't going to pitch at all. I was just going to go down there, cheer the guys on that I knew that were on this club, cheer Andy (Pettitte) on. The story's been told. But here we are. It's a whole different game now. Everything's a little more serious, a little more focused now. The games will be played at a very high, fast pace, I'm sure, and you just look forward to it. I mean, there's a lot of responsibility that comes along with it, but I'm just tickled pink that we were able to get to this point, and now we have the same opportunity that every other team has.

Q. You made the adjustment from the American League to the National. What have you seen about Carlos Beltran and him making that transition and his impact?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I tip my hat to our organization that they went out and grabbed this kid. He's one of four or five guys that I've said I've had the fortune to play with over my career, that when they hit a ball, it just sounds so different off their bat. If you stand around the cage, whether it be batting practice, or you have the opportunity to hear it in a game, it's different than anyone else's. Somebody like a Soriano, Jim Rice way back when when I played with Jimmy, Carlos Delgado, Carlos hit balls the same fashion, the same way. But it's been fun to watch him play. I mean, what he brings to the everyday guys and the youth and excitement that he brings to our players that might be a little bit older, or even our younger players, I think they enjoy watching him on an everyday basis as well. The times, I believe I faced him in Kansas City when he was young - younger - that you could tell he was going to be this type of player. Again, knowing him, you know, other than just a baseball player, knowing him and how he leads his life and the things that he does to take care of himself, it's pretty amazing. He's going to have a long career.

Q. The Astros have a poor playoff history. I'm sure they feel having a pitcher of your caliber in Game 1 is a way to change that. How do you feel?

ROGER CLEMENS: That's great. Roy and I know that we're going to have to go out and pitch and we're going to have to find a way to get the job done. For me, the way things have been the last month and a half, this game is no different. We have to pitch well and we have to keep our team in the game, and we have to win. I think I answered that earlier when I said that over that time period, we weren't afforded to have a hiccup or stub our toe or have a very poor outing. So that's the way you go into this type of game, into the playoffs. Atlanta is a team that can score runs, they can do a lot of things. So are we. We have some thumpers in the middle of our lineup, guys that are hot right now. It should be very interesting. We're going to try to make the most of it.

Q. A lot has been said about your leadership of the team over the course of the year. You've been in postseason more than anybody else in that clubhouse. Is there anything else you can do at this point as far as leadership is concerned?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I think the time that I'm not out there working, like I'll be tomorrow, I can sit there and talk to the other pitchers. I try and give them as much information as I can, trying to relax them as much as I can, to really enjoy it. I think that even though I have a lot of postseason experience, along with Andy, I'm glad Andy is here, he carries four rings with him, too, which is pretty impressive. Just to have him here, have his voice here, is nice to see. We've got some veterans that, again, I think that there's a little urgency for them. Maybe that's a good thing. Their plan of attack may be a little different this time around I hope that will be the case, and I believe it will happen. So we're looking forward to it.

Q. Marcus Giles said because of your mystique, when he goes out there as a batter and thinks about that, he's lost half the battle. What do you think?

ROGER CLEMENS: Well, I don't have to face me. I know my toughest challenge are those hitters that Bobby Cox is going to send up there to face me. I can't allow that to even fall into what I'm trying to do. I just want my body to feel great. I expect it to be. If it's not, I'll go with a different game plan. I'll try and attack these guys when I need to and pitch when I have to. I mean, that's part of being in the playoffs. Again, Marcus is a great hitter himself, too. He's a very aggressive hitter. We'll go over the situation here and we're going to have some fun with it.

End of FastScripts...

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