Clement brings big-league experience


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Jeff Clement is a name that should sound familiar to Iowans — 18 years ago, in the summer of 1996, Clement was just a boy from Marshalltown competing in the Little League World Series. It was the beginning of a monumental baseball career.

After spending four seasons in major-league baseball, Clement has returned to Iowa, joining head coach Rick Heller and the Hawkeye baseball staff.

“Jeff is going to bring a lot to the program,” Heller said. “Being a big-league player, he will have an instant credibility with the players. He will be a great addition to our staff working mostly with our catchers and help out with our hitting.”

Clement is no stranger to the coaching game. His father, Brad Clement, coached the Marshalltown High baseball team from 1980-1993 and is now a part of the Iowa High School Coaches Hall of Fame.

Then there’s brother Mike Clement, who recently accepted the offensive coaching position at Mississippi.

“Iowa has always been home for me, and I’m pretty excited about the opportunity to wear the black and gold,” Jeff Clement said. “I grew up being a Hawkeye fan; I am really looking forward to this experience.”

In 2005, he was part of a loaded draft class that included some big-time names: Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Braun, and Andrew McCutchen. Seattle selected Clement in the first round as the third overall pick following Upton and Gordon.

He spent all of last season with the Rochester Red Wings, a Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. In 123 games, Clement hit .220 with 25 doubles, 16 home runs, and 70 RBIs.

Injuries plagued him most of his career, and he appeared in just 152 games during parts of four seasons with the Mariners and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Hawkeye Josh Martsching is anxious to pick his brain about his experience overcoming his many injuries. Martsching decided to use a medical redshirt last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the fall. Martsching looks forward to Clement’s addition to the program.

“Coming fresh out of the majors, it’s great to bring the big-league offensive to our hitters this season,” Martsching said. “We are all looking to learn about his experience in the majors — more specifically what he was feeling when he got his first major-league plate appearance.”

“If you really enjoy the game, if you enjoy playing, embrace your teammates and the people you meet,” Clement said. “It’s going be one of those experiences looking back on your career whenever it’s over, it’s going to be a positive one. I know it’s the case for me, and hopefully, it will be the case for the [2014 Iowa draftees] that signed.”

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