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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : ANGELS : Snow Remembers Close Clemens Call

August 24, 1995|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

The Roger Clemens fastball that sailed over the head of Angel rookie Garret Anderson Tuesday night, sparking a beanball skirmish that marred Boston's 6-4 victory, brought back a not-so-fond memory for Angel first baseman J.T. Snow.

Snow was tearing up the American League the first three weeks of his rookie season in 1993, batting .407 with six homers and 17 runs batted in when the Red Sox visited Anaheim Stadium on April 25.

That's when Clemens, facing Snow for the first time, sent his first pitch five feet over the rookie's head and to the backstop. The pitch put Snow on his back, and some felt Snow never recovered--he hit .124 in May and was in the minor leagues by July.

Snow swears that pitch didn't send him into a tailspin. "I kind of took it as a compliment, that this guy thought I was such a good hitter he was going to try to keep me off-balance," he said.

But Snow and his teammates had no doubt the pitch had a purpose, just as they felt the one to Anderson did Tuesday night. Tim Salmon, who was hit in the hip by a Clemens fastball in the fourth inning, said Clemens came in high and tight to him when he was a rookie in 1993.

"He plays the intimidation game, and he tries to send a message to the young guys on teams," Angel shortstop Gary DiSarcina said of Clemens. "I don't know him personally, but when he's on the mound he'll do anything it takes to win. If he's one of your teammates, you enjoy watching him pitch. When he's on the other team, you wish he was on your team."

Clemens claimed there was no method to his wildness.

"I don't care if you're a rookie or a 14-year veteran, I'll continue to throw inside and hard," Clemens said. "It has nothing to do with trying to intimidate a rookie."

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Several players and coaches say the tension between the Angels and Red Sox--the teams also had a bench-clearing brawl in June--is merely a matter of two good, competitive, aggressive teams battling it out.

But Boston first baseman Mo Vaughn thinks there's more to the rivalry.

"We hate them!" Vaughn said of the Angels. "We don't hate them personally or individually, but we hate them."

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Clemens, who said he's having trouble controlling his two-seam fastball--the pitch he threw to Anderson--did, at least, regret coming so close to hitting Anderson's head.

"The ball around the head is a dangerous pitch," Clemens said. "You can pitch inside effectively at the belt."

Snow said he's been hit in the head only once in his career, in the back of the helmet in the minor leagues.

"I was seeing stars, tweety birds," Snow said. "Another inch lower, that hits the back of my neck and I could have been done. It takes just once, and your career could be over."

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