Roger Clemens talks MLB's new rules, Baseball Hall of Fame and father-son strikeout record

Roger Clemens was recently sitting around with Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, talking about the state of today’s pitching in the game, when he asked Maddux how much money could they be earning today as free agents.

“They couldn’t afford us right now, Rocket," Maddux said.

Said Clemens: “We’d be part-owners for sure.’’

They were two of the greatest right-handed pitchers of all time, combining for 709 victories, 8,043 strikeouts and 9,925 innings in their historic careers.

They had 33 seasons in which they pitched at least 200 innings with a combined 227 complete games.

Last year, there were only two pitchers in all of baseball with more than one complete game – Sandy Alcantara (6) and Framber Valdez (2) – and only eight pitchers who pitched at least 200 innings.

“It’s crazy,’’ Clemens tells USA TODAY Sports. “I think I could go three innings right now the way things are now.’’

Yes, Clemens is 60 years old, and hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007.

Clemens, who will join the ESPN broadcast crew for opening night in Houston on Thursday, says he’s looking forward to talking about the upcoming season and the new rules, particularly the pitch clock, and offers his thoughts on a variety of subjects:

Roger Clemens throwing out the first pitch during the 2022 ALCS.
Roger Clemens throwing out the first pitch during the 2022 ALCS.

Clemens on the Hall of Fame

Clemens would love to be in the Hall of Fame one day, but he and Barry Bonds remain on the outside looking in with their links to performance-enhancing drugs.

“Really, after the first year, I put that in my rear-view mirror,’’ he says. “If it happens, great. But I never worried about it. I never played with the intention of making the Hall of Fame.’’

Pitch clock

The way Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young winner, figures it, he would be an even better pitcher now with the pitch clock.

“I would have used it to my advantage,’’ Clemens says. “Back in my day, if you got ahead of a guy 0-and-2, you’d waste a pitch. I’d just hold it and get a pitch clock violation. Now, I’ve got him 1-and-2, and I’d just stand on the mound holding the ball. They wouldn’t know when I was going to throw the next one not. I could even get a second violation and make it 2-and-2. I’d have a huge advantage with the hitter not knowing when I was going to throw that ball.

“I called 90 to 95% of my pitches anyway, so I never would have felt rushed with a pitch clock.’’

Father-son strikeout record

Clemens wound up with 4,672 strikeouts, third-most behind Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson, and was most thrilled last year when his son, Kody Clemens, a position player with the Detroit Tigers, struck out Shohei Ohtani in a blowout game.

It was Clemens’ first career strikeout, but a historic one. The strikeout permitted Roger and Kody Clemens to pass Mel and Todd Stottlemyre’s father-son record for most strikeouts.

“That’s pretty special,’’ Clemens says, “having a father-son strikeout record. Kody had the presence to throw the ball out of the game, too, and even got Ohtani to sign it.’’

A future in coaching?

Clemens still works privately with pitchers, helps out good friend Woody Williams at the University of Texas and recently visited the Philadelphia Phillies' camp after an invite from manager Rob Thomson.

Clemens says he might be interested one day in becoming USA’s pitching coach in the WBC, but he has zero interest in becoming a full-time pitching coach for an organization.

“I might as well come out of retirement and pitch myself if I wanted to be a pitching coach,’’ Clemens says.

Yankees vs. Red Sox memories

Clemens couldn’t help but laugh when he heard that Andy Pettitte told Team Mexico manager Benji Gill that the atmosphere during the WBC was greater than Yankees-Red Sox games throughout his career.

“I need to bring him over then to show him a few of those highlights from those games,’’ Clemens says, “just to jog his memory.’’

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Roger Clemens talks MLB pitch clock, Baseball Hall of Fame