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THE HOME TEAM
Tom Verducci
February 23, 2004
Returning to their Houston roots, inseparable pals Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte want to share the fun of pitching the Astros to a title
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February 23, 2004

The Home Team

Returning to their Houston roots, inseparable pals Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte want to share the fun of pitching the Astros to a title

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So Alan had to smile knowingly when he opened an e-mail from Randy last month. At the time Clemens was in Hawaii with his family (and the Pettittes, of course), trying to decide if he should have his agents pursue a deal with the Astros.

The e-mail said only this: "The Big Guy says go forward." About a week later, a deal with Houston was struck.

Did anybody think the Big Guy actually had a plan for retirement? A wood shop in the basement, perhaps? Well, he did come up with something. The day Pettitte signed with the Astros, Clemens told him, "Here's what we'll do this year: We'll get to the park around two in the afternoon to work out. We'll get Mac [ Brian McNamee, their personal trainer] to meet us there. I'll be done in time to get to my kids' Little League games."

Pettitte told a friend the next afternoon at lunch, "What's he talking about? He's got my day planned out?"

At the Houston baseball dinner Clemens and Pettitte yukked it up with high school kids, teasing and chatting as they handed out awards on the dais. Later, when it was his turn to speak, Pettitte, ever earnest, gave thanks to God and family and promised to do his best to bring a title to Houston.

Then it was Clemens's turn. Seventeen hundred people, including Deb, sat rapt before one of their own. "I love that kid to death," Clemens said of Pettitte. Then he switched into needle mode.

"He says I aggravate him," Clemens continued. "He aggravates me. He aggravated me right out of retirement."

As a major leaguer Pettitte disliked Clemens before he even met him. Oh, they crossed paths in the outfield before a game in 1996. "We probably shouldn't talk too long here," Clemens, then with the Red Sox, said to Pettitte, "but I wanted to tell you everybody's proud you're holding up the tradition of Houston. Way to go, man."

Outside of that, Pettitte, like all Yankees, considered Clemens a bully with a baseball. Clemens threw too close too often to their hitters for anyone to like him from a distance. Then suddenly, after New York's shocking 1999 trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, Clemens became Pettitte's teammate. The two hit it off immediately. Their mutual love for working out and golfing provided the bond for a friendship.

"When I first came up to the Yankees," Pettitte says, "I was around a lot of veteran pitchers who didn't do a lot of work with weights. I always liked to run and work with weights. But Roger took it to another level. For instance, he showed me how to make my legs stronger with weights and explained why that was important."

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