Clemens, Pettitte learning to fill new roles on loaded Houston pitching staff

Posted: Monday, February 23, 2004

Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte showed up at spring training and quickly found out that neither one is Houston's No. 1 starter.

That distinction belongs to Roy Oswalt, picked by Astros manager Jimy Williams to pitch opening day against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants.

''Jimy and I talked about it a couple of weeks ago and that's how we talked about it, so it's no surprise to us,'' Clemens said Sunday in Kissimmee, Fla. ''To me, all the guys are deserving. We've all had our opportunities to start opening day.''

Oswalt, one of three holdovers from last year's rotation along with Wade Miller and Tim Redding, is one of the best young pitchers in baseball. But he was hampered by chronic groin injuries in 2003 and had surgery in the offseason to correct the problem.

Ex-Yankees Clemens and Pettitte were Houston's two big offseason additions, but Williams will go with the 26-year-old Oswalt at home on April 5.

Pettitte will go second in a splendid rotation, followed by his pal Clemens. Miller, the club's opening day starter in 2002, will pitch fourth, and Redding is No. 5.

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