“My curve ball command has gotten head and shoulders better than past years,” Clemens said. “Now that I can command my off speed stuff, that makes my fastball look that much harder to (hitters) because they have to respect the fact that I can throw a first pitch change.”
Clemens had an impressive spring for the Astros in his first major league spring training camp. He drew rave reviews after pitching four innings of scoreless relief and allowing only two hits in game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The next morning, however, Clemens found out he was starting the season in Triple A.
“There was a feeling of emptiness that day,” he said. “I had never been cut in my life. I remember guys telling me on the very first day that this is an open competition and no one has got a job. I felt like I was holding my own and right there with everybody else. To get cut right after something like that, it really left a pit in my stomach that I will never forget. It stung for a few days. It just hurt.”
After being traded to the Astros last season, Clemens got five starts for Houston's Double-A affiliate Corpus Christi. He started the final game of the 2011 season for the RedHawks against New Orleans, but he had the flu and gave up eight earned runs in 4 2/3rd innings.
On opening night Thursday against the Memphis Redbirds, Clemens allowed a pair of solo homers in six effective innings and got the loss.
Clemens said the biggest thing he has learned in two Triple-A starts is that he can't get away with mistakes.
“I felt like I only made about three or four mistakes (Thursday night), and they didn't miss any of them,” he said. “I could get away with a lot of things in Double A. I got to be more aware of every single pitch.”