Clemens provides pitching tips, not explanations

  • Follow Baseball

WACO, Texas - Roger Clemens talked about pitching and conditioning. What he didn't talk about was steroids.

Roger Clemens, left, leaves the Waco Convention Center after speaking to coaches attending the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association state convention Saturday Jan. 12, 2008 in Waco, Texas. Clemens discussed conditioning at the convention a month before he is to testify before a congressional committee investigating the Mitchell Report.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Roger Clemens, left, leaves the Waco Convention Center after speaking to coaches attending the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association state convention Saturday Jan. 12, 2008 in Waco, Texas. Clemens discussed conditioning at the convention a month before he is to testify before a congressional committee investigating the Mitchell Report.

In a session before about 1,000 Texas high school baseball coaches Saturday, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner stuck to baseball and cracked jokes, making no mention of the allegations in the Mitchell Report that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

"He talked like nothing ever happened. It was a nonissue in there," Waco Midway High assistant coach Coby Meinzer said.

Clemens spoke for more than an hour at the closing session of the annual convention of the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association, the nation's largest such group. He shared tips on techniques and took questions, all pertaining to the game itself.

"It was real warm, nothing negative at all," said Will Joiner, a coach from La Porte High.

The speech was closed to the media, and Clemens was driven in and out of the convention center through a private garage.

In a video of his session, the 45-year-old Texan joked about the media attention. Clemens' former trainer, Brian McNamee, has said he injected the pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone. Clemens has vehemently denied the accusations.

But that was as far as it went - no mention of performance-enhancing drugs, the release last month of the report on doping in baseball by former Sen. George Mitchell or Clemens' pending appearance Feb. 13 before Congress.

When asked early last year to speak, Clemens' session initially was advertised on the association's Web site as the pitcher talking about his "vigorous workout" and how he played so long. The topic was removed several weeks ago.

Introduced by Humble coach David Sitton, the group's incoming president and former Astros batting practice pitcher, Clemens took a playful jab by thanking him for the "fiasco."

"I said I'll just answer questions. I don't want to bore people. I'll talk about things I've learned over 25 years or whatever," Clemens said. "But he goes I want you to talk about your vigorous workout, (that) is what he told everybody in the country."

After the Mitchell Report was released, executives for the coaches' group discussed Clemens' appearance, then confirmed he would speak.

"We back him up 100 percent; we think he's a great individual," said Mike Perez, head coach of Highlands High in San Antonio and a regional officer for the coaches association. "If he says he didn't do it, I believe him 100 percent, and our association believes him 100 percent. We think he's a class act."

Clemens talked some about his workout regimen, but spoke mostly about teaching and coaching pitchers.

"That's what I've really enjoyed the most, the opportunity to not only teach some of the young kids in the professional ranks, and help them get to the major leagues, try and pass the baton," he said.

Wearing a long-sleeved polo shirt after shedding a University of Texas pullover jacket, Clemens had to borrow a glove and a ball to demonstrate some of his techniques.

"He could be a high school or a college or a pro coach, the way he teaches and everything," Perez said.

Clemens did not indicate whether he planned to pitch again after going 6-6 in 18 games last season with the New York Yankees. It was his 24th season - the second joining a team midseason. He made 19 starts for Houston in 2006, a year after helping his hometown Astros make their first World Series.

"There's a reason why my phone rings every May when I'm trying to retire. I don't really care to play. I've been there and done it," he said. "But when another teammate says listen, can you come back, we need you in the clubhouse more than we need you on the field. What am I going to tell somebody like that? They reach out to my heart."

Clemens told the coaches how important they are in their players' development and stressed keeping things simple. He talked about key aspects of pitching, from mechanics to focus, often cracking jokes about his career and his four sons.

"Roger had a great time; it was a fantastic day," Sitton said. "It was the same old Roger. There was no talk about steroids in the car or at the convention."

Clemens got plenty of applause when he was introduced, then a standing ovation when he finished talking.

"When everything comes out, we'll make our decision then," Joiner said. "Until then, he's still Roger Clemens, one of the greatest pitchers that ever pitched in the game."


Search Augusta jobs