Determined Clemens honored by first callup

Determined Clemens honored by first callup

SEATTLE -- Newest Astros pitcher Paul Clemens was leaning on the dugout railing in the sixth inning of an otherwise routine early-season Triple-A game in Memphis on Sunday afternoon when RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco asked him to come down and see him.

"He said, 'You're going to The Show,'" Clemens said. "It's a surreal moment, but I tried to take 20 minutes to sit down and let that soak in. Now I'm ready to get back to work."

Clemens shook hands with his teammates, jumped on a plane for Seattle and arrived at 1 a.m. PT on Monday, but the trip was worth it. Clemens, a starter by trade, will work in the Houston bullpen and he said the chance to wear a Major League uniform is a dream come true.

"It took a lot of hard work and dedication," he said. "I have to give thanks to all the coaches I had coming up. I'm not the kind of guy who just gets to the Major Leagues on my own. That being said, I have to thank guys like [Braves Minor League pitching coaches] Gabe Luckert, Derrick Lewis, Marty Reed and Derek Botelho. I was just a sponge soaking up knowledge, being traded over here and being polished by guys like Don Alexander and Doug Brocail, it's just been flat-out amazing."

Clemens is likeable and humble, but is confident in his abilities and his power stuff.

"I'm a self-aware man," he said. "I know what I had to do to get here, and now it's a dream come true and this is honestly the first stop. I want to be a guy Bo Porter can look at and say, 'That's the guy I want coming in the game to lock something down.' Whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do to my full abilities."

Porter, the Astros' manager, said he wouldn't be afraid to use Clemens in any situation.

"He did a great job in spring when he started some games, and he pitched in relief in the bullpen," he said. "It gives us great flexibility being built up as a starter. You can bring him in long situations, you can bring him into short situations because he has swing-and-miss stuff."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.