(Long Island, NY) The sideshow otherwise known as the New York Yankees proved once again that they do everything with a little flair. Even when they announce that they have signed a free agent forty-something pitcher coming out of retirement (again) that will not be ready for at least a month, the Bronx Bombers pull out all the stops. Should we have expected anything less?
During the seventh inning stretch on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Roger Clemens stood up in owner George Steinbrenner’s private luxury box with a microphone in hand and announced to the 52,553 fans that he was coming back. The scoreboard also informed the crowd of the situation, and the ovation trumped even the one following the home team’s 5-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Clemens addressed reporters during a press conference that took place after the game and said, “I’m coming back to do the only thing they know how to do with the Yankees, and that’s win a championship. Anything else is a failure, and I know that.”
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner signed a minor league one-year deal that will cost Steinbrenner a prorated amount from $28 million dollars. Clemens will also enjoy the flexibility of missing certain road trips to spend more time with his family, which is similar to the stipulations that he had in his 2006 contract with the Houston Astros.
“He’ll be here at times, he may not be here at times,” said general manager Brian Cashman at the same press conference. “But I know one thing: We’ll be happy every five days when he shows up on our mound.”
The team will not have to be concerned with that unique situation for at least three or four weeks while Clemens gets back in game shape. He is expected to make rehabilitation starts in the minor leagues prior to coming to the Bronx, most likely making Tampa (Florida State League) the first stop.
For a team that has endured numerous injuries to their pitching staff, Clemens’ signing could not have come at a better time. Considering that the season is barely five weeks old, the Yankees already have had to place five starters on the disabled list. Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina are horses that will be needed to join Andy Pettitte to anchor the staff. Jeff Karstens and Philip Hughes are youngsters that should be able to bounce back and contribute. Carl Pavano? If he ever gets back on the mound for the Yankees, it would be considered a plus.
All along, Clemens had stated that if he did in fact decide to pitch this season, it would be only for one of three teams: the Yankees, Red Sox, or Astros. Houston would have made the most sense for him to be close to home, but they are not expected to have much success this season. The Rocket obviously wants to win, and using that as a barometer, Boston would have been a good choice. But there also is the ego of Clemens to consider. The Sox have a good staff currently and are leading the American League East, and how much would he cement his legacy even more by riding into Yankee Stadium and resurrecting the Bombers? If he does just that at age 44 and the Yankees overtake their nemesis Boston, he would be viewed as the best pitcher of his era.