LAKELAND, Fla. – Roger Clemens has been a regular visitor to the Tigers’ workouts since the club selected his son, Kody Clemens, in the 2018 Amateur Draft. Before Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Yankees, Detroit invited him to to speak to the team.
The seven-time Cy Young winner never imagined what was in store for him.
“They cooked me,” Clemens said with a laugh.
At the meeting, the team showed video of Miguel Cabrera, then 20, homering off Clemens in Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, capping an at-bat that began with a high fastball and punch.
“We talked about awkward shifts,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He threw [a Cabrera] to the face Then Miguel took it out. The boys had fun with it.”
It was a valuable lesson, but it didn’t stop there.
“We also saw how [el miembro del Salón de la Fama Alan] Trammell homered him,” added Hinch. “We made sure Roger remembered all of that.”
Sure enough, Trammell hit .364 (24-for-66) in his career against Clemens, with seven doubles, two home runs and 14 RBIs. He hit a three-run shot to go up in the seventh against Clemens on June 12, 1987 at Tiger Stadium. Trammell had one of the five hits Clemens allowed in his 20-strikeout shutout at Tiger Stadium on September 18, 1996.
In contrast, Hinch went 2-for-11 in his playing career against Clemens, but homered against him in their last meeting, on August 10, 1999.
It was a fun moment, but repeating Cabrera’s homer served its purpose.
“What we wanted to do,” Hinch explained, “was get as many people in that room as possible who have experienced what few have: Win a World Series. When you see someone at the beginning of a Hall of Fame career, like Miguel, facing Roger, at the end of his career, it is a reminder that that goal can happen at any moment, whether you are ready or not ” .
For some players present at the meeting, that was a story of yesteryear. Riley Greene was three years old when that hit occurred. Matt Manning and Akil Badoo had five. Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, six.
For pitchers, Clemens’ message was very important.
“I have had very good conversations with Roger. I love listening to him,” Mize confessed. “We talked about game plans, bullpen (sessions) and mental aspects. It’s amazing to hear a legend talk about the game.”
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HR from Miguel to Clemens, a lesson in DET