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Reflections on the Rocket: Fellow Texans Workman, Clemens treading a similar path decades apart

July 26, 2014

PawSox starter Brandon Workman watches a recent game from the dugout at McCoy Stadium. Growing up in Texas and later becoming a UT Longhorn, Workman was a longtime fan of Roger Clemens. PHOTO BY JILLIAN SOUZA

PAWTUCKET – For reasons no doubt discussed ad nauseam in other forums, “Rocket” Roger Clemens will not be featured during this weekend’s 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.

“He definitely has the numbers to be there,” said Workman recently while sitting in the home dugout at McCoy Stadium. “I’m not sure how everything is going to play out. Like everyone else, I don’t know what’s 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.”

Though Clemens and Workman don’t maintain regular contact, they are acquainted with each other going back to Workman’s college days. When Workman starred at the University of Texas, the most famous alum in Longhorn baseball history – the recently-retired Roger Clemens – would frequently drop by the field.

“Growing 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,” Workman said. “He 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 didn’t know him.”

Over the last offseason, Workman had the opportunity to return to his alma mater, where he would work- out alongside UT’s 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 that’s 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 Boston’s farm system, with the obligatory stop-over in Pawtucket along the way.

“Getting over the fact that he is Roger Clemens made talking to him a lot easier,” Workman said. “He’s definitely a guy who’s had a lot of the same experiences that I’ve already had. I’m also trying to work at obtaining some of the experiences that he has had that I haven’t gotten to yet. In that aspect, he’s someone I can look up to.”

When the Red Sox were in Houston the weekend before the All-Star break, Clemens was quoted in the Boston Herald about Workman’s reassignment to Pawtucket following a stint with the parent club.

“I watch Brandon quite a bit. Some of these guys ask different questions about what’s going on. Just recently, (Workman) said he’s not very happy about going back to Pawtucket,” Clemens told the newspaper. “I said, ‘You shouldn’t be because you’re a big leaguer and you’re going to be right back in no time. Just stay focused on what you’re doing and don’t go get (ticked) off like I did when I was young and probably cost myself my eighth Cy Young. Now, it’s put your headset on and just go run, get it out.’”

Told about what Clemens said, Workman simply smiled.

“We don’t talk all that often. When we do, it’s not so much about the technical aspect of baseball, but more about guidance,” he said.

When the subject turned to Clemens’ 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.

“You always heard about his work ethic and his attitude on the mound. That’s why he was so successful and a guy I want to try and be like,” 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. “It would really be cool to see him receive that honor.”

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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