Koby Clemens, son of former big league pitcher and 300-game-winner Roger Clemens, takes fielding practice on Monday afternoon at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester. This will be his first year with the Fishercats. (Bruce Preston / Union Leader)
Roger Clemens' son, a Fisher Cat, is his own man
By MARC THALER New Hampshire Union Leader
MANCHESTER -- Koby Clemens wears the same jersey number his famous father donned in 12 major league seasons pitching for the Boston Red Sox. He signed to play third base at his father's alma mater, the University of Texas, but ultimately chose the path of pro baseball after another of his dad's former teams, the Houston Astros, drafted him.
Yet the eldest son of 'The Rocket,' a free-agent acquisition of the Eastern League champion New Hampshire Fisher Cats, made one thing very clear Monday during Media Day at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
'People talk about the pressure (of being the son of Roger Clemens). But I've kind of taken it in stride, don't really (make) too much of it,' the 25-year-old first baseman said while answering questions in the ballpark's visiting clubhouse. 'I go out and be Koby. My dad's always said that. I'm just like anybody else that's trying to make it in this game.'
Still, his surname always sparks conversation - and debate.
Roger Clemens was indicted two years ago, charged with lying to a congressional committee in February 2008. He testified that he did not use performance-enhancing drugs.
'I really don't look at negatives if anybody brings them up,' said the younger Clemens, whose father's perjury case ended in a mistrial. 'I've got a lot more positives coming back from having my dad being who he is.'
On the diamond, it's tough to draw direct comparisons between father and son.
Working in the son's favor: He is a hitter.
Drafted out of Houston's Memorial High School, the 5-foot 11-inch, 193-pound slugger was an eighth-round selection of the Astros in 2005. Four years later, he was named Offensive Player of the Year in the Astros' organization.
He cracked 22 home runs in 121 games split between two teams.
Just two years ago, the son of the seven-time Cy Young Award winner led Double-A Corpus Christi of the Texas League in home runs (26), RBIs (85), doubles (22), runs scored (75) and slugging percentage (.476).
Such production in 127 games earned him a promotion to Houston's Triple-A affiliate, Oklahoma City of the Pacific Coast League.
Clemens, though, struggled in 126 contests. Save for doubles (21), his totals in those same offensive categories suffered a noticeable drop.
By his own admission, Clemens said he was overly aggressive at the plate. He fell into the habit of chasing too many poor pitches.
'For me, he's going to be an exciting guy to (manage) because he has a lot of possibilities for power,' Fishers skipper Sal Fasano said. 'He can hit a ball a long way. So, hopefully, he'll (rediscover) his swing and get him to a point where he can actually compete for a big-league job someday.'
Fasano acknowledged Clemens might take the return to Double-A as a demotion. Clemens quickly set the record straight.
'Last year, I had my struggles,' Clemens said. 'It's not a demotion whatsoever.'
The way Clemens views it, his arrival in the Queen City is a tremendous opportunity.
And, of course, the Hilton Garden Inn staring at right-handed power hitters from beyond the left-center field fence.
'I think he's definitely going to be a threat in the lineup, not make pitchers comfortable,' said Fisher Cat Kevin Howard, who played against Clemens at Triple-A.
Clemens smirked at the thought of trying to tattoo the hotel's facade. He was straight-faced, however, when asked about filling a leadership role for a club returning 11 players from an EL title-winner.
He hopes the opportunity to lead presents itself.
Howard said it can be tough to join a team as a minor-league free agent who 'didn't come up through the system.'
It doesn't sound like Clemens, much like his father, has backed down from the challenge.
'I think he's fit right in with everybody,' Howard said. 'He's a good presence in the locker room.'
Starting Thursday night in New Jersey, at rival Trenton, Clemens plans to be dangerous at the dish.
'I don't try to go prove what (others) expect of me,' Clemens said. 'I go play my game. I know what I can do, and do (it) to the best of my abilites.'
We're turning another page on the calendar this weekend. With May flowers starting to bloom, we are putting together all the fun-in-the-sun events to come. For now we're staying close to the indoors...