DETROIT – Roger Clemens enjoyed some big baseball moments in the city of Detroit, including a 20-strikeout performance at Tiger Stadium.
Not many of them had him as fired up as the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader between the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins.
With the seven-time Cy Young Award winner watching from a suite at Comerica Park, 26-year-old Kody Clemens made his major league debut for the Tigers.
A day after being promoted from Triple-A Toledo, Clemens went 0 for 3, striking out twice and drawing a walk, as Detroit beat the Twins 4-0 to earn a split. He was flawless in the field at second base, and handled a grounder for the final out.
“It was a long day with the doubleheader and everything, so I was sitting around with my knees shaking. I was ready to go," he said. "I had some early butterflies, but I went out there and soaked it all in a little bit. I had so much fun. It was awesome.”
A third-round pick in the 2018 amateur draft, Clemens was hitting .283 at Toledo with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 45 games. Drafted as a second baseman, he has played first, second, third and in left field this season.
“I’m just really happy for him – he’s worked really hard to get here and it has finally happened for him,” said his 59-year-old dad, who came from his Texas home to see the game. “We got everyone into scramble mode yesterday to get up here.”
Batting sixth and facing fellow rookie Cole Sands, Clemens lined out to left field his time up.
“There were definitely butterflies in the field in the first inning, for sure, and in the box for the first at bat. He’s a good pitcher and I put a good swing on the ball, so I was super happy with that, and then the walk. Then, you know, two strikeouts, but it was a blast," he said.
“After maybe my second or third at-bat, I took some deep breaths and was like ‘all right, I’m good,’” he said.
Clemens posed on field with his mom and dad after the game.
“We had so many family members and friends here today, and to get a win while they’re here and see the smiles on all their faces was awesome," he said.
The versatile Clemens was told he'd be starting in left field Wednesday night against the Twins.
“I didn’t even know that, but that sounds good," he said.
His father went 11-8 in 26 career starts against the Tigers in Detroit, but has a few special memories.
“This is like a second home to me, because I had an aunt who lived here, and I always stayed in her basement when we were here instead of the team hotel,” he said. “And I went for my 300th (win) here, and of course, down the road, I had my 20-strikeout game.”
Kody Clemens is wearing No. 21, one of the numbers his father wore. He also wore No. 22 with the Yankees and the Astros.
Roger Clemens pitched 18 minor league games before sticking in the big leagues. Kody has played 325.
“We’ve had very different experiences, but we discussed the same thing we always talk about – if you are going to be in the major leagues, you might as well win,” Clemens said. “Find a way to do it.”
Roger Clemens knew how to do that. He posted a 354-184 record with the the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Astros and Yankees. The 11-time All Star was a member of two World Series champions. A power pitcher, he struck out 4,672.
Kody Clemens doesn’t have worry about any comparisons to his father’s hitting. The older Clemens insists he was a really good bunter, but his son doesn't hesitate to tell him he knows nothing about hitting.
The star pitcher batted .173 (31 for 179) with six doubles and no home runs.
“What’s cool is when he got the news, he got texts from several of my major league teammates, so I was able to step back as a dad and let them impart some wisdom,” Roger Clemens said. “Derek Jeter is giving him advice and Jeff Bagwell is giving him advice."
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