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Clemens says family is owed an apology

HOUSTON -- After a strong pitching performance in the Houston Astros' latest victory, Roger Clemens was in no mood to celebrate.

Emotional as he addressed for the first time his ejection from his 10-year-old son's youth league baseball game, Clemens said, "This is a shame and it's not even an issue.

"It's very scary that it affects my family," he said Tuesday night in the Astros' clubhouse. "A lot of people owe my family an apology."

Clemens was banished to a parking lot during his son's game Saturday in Craig, Colo., after an umpire said Clemens spit a sunflower seed at him. His son had just been called out after a close play.

Speaking after the Astros' game, Clemens at first joked with reporters about the ejection. But he grew more exasperated with each question, finally going on a five-minute tirade.

"I guess I'm a champion seed-spitter," Clemens said. "I was probably a good 20 yards from the field. I've been able to see . . . comments like I was nose-to-nose and toe-to-toe and arguing. I was sitting on a bucket talking to fans and signing [autographs] in between."

He denied even being tossed from the game, saying that he went to the car -- as he always does -- toward the end of the game and didn't even see the disputed play.

"They did not ask me to leave. I did not know that I was even supposedly thrown out," Clemens said. "I go to my car every day to plan my escape route after I sign [autographs]."

Since leaving Colorado, Clemens said he's received two apologies -- he declined to identify who made them -- and hundreds of calls from people expressing dismay about his treatment.

"We got the great phone calls from the people that mattered that were there and they were just appalled by the entire situation," Clemens said.

Clemens pitched seven strong innings Tuesday on the eve of his 42d birthday in the Astros' 3-2 win over Atlanta. He has 322 victories for 12th place on the career wins list.

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