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Clemens too tough to hit in Derby07/01/2010 12:56 AM ET
By Jonathan Hull / Special to MLB.com
MIDLAND, Texas -- Even when Roger Clemens is trying to give up home runs, accomplishing that feat can be a daunting task. Such was the case at the Texas League All-Star Game Home Run Derby at Citibank Ballpark on Wednesday.
Clemens was the honorary pitcher for the Derby, and while he was throwing what was essentially batting practice, six of the eight participants in the contest were unable to register a single homer.
San Antonio's Matt Clark, who qualified for the finals after hitting just one home run in the first round, found his swing and hit three home runs in the finals to claim a 3-2 win over Frisco's Joey Butler.
"Once I got comfortable out there, then it was a lot better," Clark said. "I just had to get the first round out of the way."
Still, with only 10 total home runs hit in the Derby, the show belonged to Clemens, whose son Koby -- a first baseman for the Corpus Christi Hooks -- was among the eight players taking part in the event.
Clemens said his arm felt fine, especially since he was throwing from 10 feet in front of the mound.
"Throwing from 50 feet, it was great," he said. "That was the first time I've been a part of a Home Run Derby, other than just watching them at the All-Star Games. I had to slow down for some of the guys. I could tell some of them needed a breather. I'm sure they were anxious."
Clemens started considering throwing for the contest a few weeks ago, when it appeared his son was going to qualify for the All-Star Game. Clemens made contact with the Midland staff last year when he attended a game between the Hooks and the RockHounds late last season.
"We had talked about it and I got to meet the management here last year when Koby had a quick 10-day stint at (Corpus Christi)," Clemens said. "I told them I would throw if they needed and it all worked out.
"We have some friends that live here too. I could hear their voices, yelling at me in the stands when the guys were making outs. "
Butler, the second batter in the Derby, hit four home runs. Clark just got one over the wall in right, and that turned out to be enough to get the surprised Missions first baseman into the finals.
There, Butler hit two homers in nine outs. Clark got the three home runs he needed with three outs to spare.
"It was a little different hitting off someone I hadn't hit off before," Clark said, "but being it was (Clemens) throwing made it a lot of fun."
Even though he couldn't put a ball across the plate that his son could take advantage of, Clemens still relished the experience.
"I think the guys had fun. I didn't throw too many cutters at them," he joked. "It was fun for me to be out here. It's a double bonus being a dad and seeing Koby work his way up."
Clemens also took part in the ceremonial first pitch alongside Citibank representative Bobby Norman and journalist and author Joe Galloway, who wrote the book the film We Were Soldiers was based on.
Clemens also autographed an All-Star jersey which was auctioned for $5,000 after the game.
Martinez MVP on a Mission: San Antonio catcher Luis Martinez was a unanimous pick by the attending media as the Texas League All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player. Martinez got one hit in his two-at bats, but his single came at an opportune time.
In the bottom of the fourth inning with two runners in scoring position and the South trailing, 3-2, Martinez came through with a hard-line drive at North third baseman Mike Moustakas, a top prospect in the Royals organization. Moustakas couldn't handle the ball and it deflected off his glove and into left field for a hit, scoring Matt Lawson and Joey Butler.
"There's an immense amount of talent out here," Martinez said. "I was just trying to help the team, not do too much. I came away with a single and two RBIs. I did what I wanted to do."