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PAWTUCKET â For reasons no doubt discussed ad nauseam in other forums, âRocketâ Roger Clemens will not be featured during this weekendâs Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Brandon Workman, Clemens fan, fellow Red Sox pitcher and fellow University of Texas Longhorn, hopes that changes someday.
The PawSox right-handed pitcher knows all about the steroid stigma surrounding Clemens, and admits that it may be awhile before those empowered with voting ultimately decide how to handle ballplayers who, like Clemens, are connected one way or another to performance-enhancing substances. But nevertheless Workman says he will be an interested bystander as that process takes place.
âHe definitely has the numbers to be there,â said Workman recently while sitting in the home dugout at McCoy Stadium. âIâm not sure how everything is going to play out. Like everyone else, I donât know whatâs going to happen with all the other aspects. When you look at the back of his baseball card, you see Hall of Fame numbers. I really hope it works out.â
Though Clemens and Workman donât maintain regular contact, they are acquainted with each other going back to Workmanâs college days. When Workman starred at the University of Texas, the most famous alum in Longhorn baseball history â the recently- retired Roger Clemens â would frequently drop by the field.
âGrowing up in Texas, he was THE guy ... being from Texas, going to the University, winning the College World Series and going on to have the career that he had,â Workman said. âHe was someone I looked up to as a kid and it was great to finally meet him. When I was in college, he gave the team a speech or two about staying focused and keeping your mind right. I introduced myself, but I really didnât know him.â
Over the last offseason, Workman had the opportunity to return to his alma mater, where he would work- out alongside UTâs Kacy Clemens, a freshman infielder/pitcher and the son of you-know-who.
The 300-game winner and seven-time Cy Young Award winner would sometimes stop in on those sessions, and thatâs when Workman and the elder Clemens were able to meet and share their experiences.
Almost 30 years ago, it was Clemens who was making the climb through Bostonâs farm system, with the obligatory stop-over in Pawtucket along the way.
âGetting over the fact that he is Roger Clemens made talking to him a lot easier,â Workman said. âHeâs definitely a guy whoâs had a lot of the same experiences that Iâve already had. Iâm also trying to work at obtaining some of the experiences that he has had that I havenât gotten to yet. In that aspect, heâs someone I can look up to.â
When the Red Sox were in Houston the weekend before the All-Star break, Clemens was quoted in the Boston Herald about Workmanâs reassignment to Pawtucket following a stint with the parent club.
âI watch Brandon quite a bit. Some of these guys ask different questions about whatâs going on. Just recently, (Workman) said heâs not very happy about going back to Pawtucket,â Clemens told the newspaper. âI said, âYou shouldnât be because youâre a big leaguer and youâre going to be right back in no time. Just stay focused on what youâre doing and donât go get (ticked) off like I did when I was young and probably cost myself my eighth Cy Young. Now, itâs put your headset on and just go run, get it out.ââ
Told about what Clemens said, Workman simply smiled.
âWe donât talk all that often. When we do, itâs not so much about the technical aspect of baseball, but more about guidance,â he said.
When the subject turned to Clemensâ induction into the Red Sox Hall of Fame next month, the 25-year-old Workman expressed a strong desire to be in attendance for the event.
âYou always heard about his work ethic and his attitude on the mound. Thatâs why he was so successful and a guy I want to try and be like,â said Workman, who has won all three of his decisions since rejoining Pawtucket earlier this month, the latest one coming Thursday in Lehigh Valley as the PawSox stretched their winning streak to a franchise-tying nine games. âIt would really be cool to see him receive that honor.â
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