Kid can’t take Cle­mens deep

Rocket pitches in Texas League Home Run Derby con­test

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Jaime Aron

MID­LAND — Roger Cle­mens fired a pitch low and away, then watched it go fly­ing down the right­field line.

It twisted foul — and he couldn’t have been more dis­ap­pointed.

The ball was hit by his son, Koby, on his first swing in the Texas League Home Run Derby. It turned out to be as close as the kid came to tak­ing his old man deep.

Koby was part of the ma­jor­ity in that re­spect. Five of the other seven hit­ters also took 0-fers, mainly be­cause of a stiff wind blow­ing straight in from left field. The Rocket did his part to help, keep­ing his heater in the luke­warm range of 60 to 65 mph and try­ing to put the ball wher­ever bat­ters wanted.

Con­tin­ued from C1

“They asked for them out­side,” Roger Cle­mens said. “That’s the only thing I gave them. It’s a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult than it looks.”

Matt Clark of the San An­to­nio Mis­sions got to the fi­nals by hit­ting just one homer. He won the event with three more. Cle­mens said his aim might’ve been off be­cause he was pitch­ing from the front of the mound.

“I think if they’d let me scoot back to 60 feet, I’d have been a lit­tle bet­ter,” he said. “I think the guys had fun. I didn’t throw too many cut­ters on ’em. It was fun for me to be out here. Of course, it’s a dou­ble bonus for me be­ing a dad and see­ing Koby out here.”

Koby Cle­mens is a 23-yearold first base­man for the Cor­pus Christi Hooks, the Hous­ton Astros’ Dou­ble-A farm club, who made the All-Star game by be­ing sec­ond in homers and RBIs. When it seemed likely that he would be part of this event, his dad vol­un­teered to take part.

Roger showed up on the field in a white, No. 21 South Al­lS­tar uni­form, just like Koby’s. The en­tire North squad stood in front of the dugout watch­ing his ev­ery move as he loos­ened up.

When Koby and sev­eral other Derby hit­ters went to greet Roger at home plate, he smiled wide at his son.

Speak­ing to no one in par- tic­u­lar, Koby said: “Just one. That’s all I need to do — one! No shutout. Gotta get it out. Might have to go op­po­site field, but I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta do.”

Koby took al­most as many pitches as he hit. Two of his hits went up the mid­dle, forc­ing Roger to duck. The last swing was high and deep, and both turned to watch. The wind made sure it didn’t get out.

“I prob­a­bly kept it too low,” Roger said.

Koby is the youngest of four boys — all their names start with K, as in the scorer’s code for strike­out — and the oth­ers were here, too, along with their mom, sev­eral aunts and un­cles and a grand­mother.

Roger Cle­mens wanted to par­tic­i­pate in mi­nor league event when he found out Koby would take part.

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