MANCHESTER — The eldest son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens is back for his second tour this season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
But this time, Koby Clemens is a catcher.
“I went down to (High-A) Dunedin and really worked hard,” Koby said Thursday before the Fisher Cats opened their four-game homestand against the Portland Sea Dogs at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. “I caught some games, slowly got more and more comfortable, and (Wednesday) got the call that I’m coming back up here.”
The promotion forced members of Koby’s family — Roger included — to adjust travel plans. The former Red Sox ace attended Thursday’s game, but he did not make himself available for an interview.
Catching isn’t unfamiliar to the 25-year-old Clemens. He played the position in the High-A tier during the 2008 and 2009 seasons with the Houston Astros’ organization.
Koby said his father, well-versed in throwing to a batterymate, has offered advice. The pointers included working to the pitcher’s strengths and showing confidence in pitches called.
“Once I got comfortable back there, it just kind of flows,” said Koby, who called games at Dunedin. “You just know situations, the hitters kind of dictate what you plan on doing.”
Toronto sent Koby to Dunedin on May 21. He started the 2012 season with the Fisher Cats, playing the corner infield positions and serving as designated hitter.
He played in only 18 games. He hit .148 (8-for-54) with two home runs.
“I think the concerns were more on the defensive side,” Koby said when asked if his transfer to the Florida State League was linked to his offensive struggles. “But it always looks good when you hit a little bit better down there, too.”
In 23 games for Dunedin, he hit .299 (20-for-67). Seven hits went for extra bases, including three homers.
“They offered it to me and I was all for it,” Koby said of the position switch. “Any opportunity I get to keep playing baseball, I’ll take it.”
Koby didn’t know if he’d return to New Hampshire in 2012.
Now that he’s back, he’ll fill the back-up catcher’s role. Joel Galarraga is expected to join Triple-A Las Vegas; Sean Ochinko is the Fishers’ starter behind the plate.
The plan, Koby said, is to stay sharp via bullpen sessions.
He’ll also work closely with Fishers manager Sal Fasano, formerly a journeyman major league catcher from 1996-2008.
“I’m happy I got the promotion,” Koby said. “I’m going to continue to work and see where it takes me.”
- - - - - - - -
Marc Thaler may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.