The "Rocket" Returns to Pinstripes

NEW YORK (AP) -- Roger Clemens returned to the New York Yankees, making a dramatic announcement to fans from the owner's box during Sunday's game against the Seattle Mariners.

At the end of the seventh-inning stretch, Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard told fans to turn their attention to the box, where Clemens was standing with a microphone. As the video scoreboard in right-center showed Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner made the announcement himself.

"Well, they came and got me out of Texas and I can tell you it's a privilege to be back," Clemens said. "I'll be talking to y'all soon."

Clemens, who will turn 45 in August, agreed to a $28 million, one-year contract that will start when he is added to the major league roster, most likely in three to four weeks.

He begins with a minor league contract, and the deal will allow him to earn about $18.5 million. Clemens will start his workouts in Lexington, Ky., where his son Koby is playing in the Houston Astros' farm system.

"I'm about at playing weight right now," Clemens said. "I feel pretty good."

The Rocket pitched for New York from 1999-2003. He left the Yankees after the 2003 season, saying he was retiring, but after Andy Pettitte signed with the Astros, Clemens followed his friend to their hometown team.

Pettitte returned to the Yankees this year, and Clemens followed on Sunday.

"It's another challenge," said Clemens, eighth on the career list with 348 wins. "I expect to do things at the age of 44, 45 like I did at 25."

He chose New York over two of his other former teams, the Astros and Boston Red Sox.

"Let's face it -- these guys know how to win," Clemens said, adding that captain Derek Jeter pressed him to return as New York struggled early this season.

The Yankees have been beset by a rash of injuries to their pitching staff, contributing to a disappointing 14-15 start. But they beat the Mariners 5-0 on Sunday for their fifth victory in six games after losing eight of nine.

"Derek was on me once a week, especially when things weren't working out," Clemens said. "I see the problems with the pitching staff, too. The injuries are incredible."

Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, was in Boston talking to the Red Sox on Thursday when talks with the Yankees intensified. Negotiations were held by e-mail and cell phone. By Friday evening, a deal was in place.

Clemens traveled to New York on Sunday, got to LaGuardia Airport at about 1 p.m., then went to a Manhattan hotel and changed. He got to Yankee Stadium in the sixth inning, then made the big announcement, prompting fans to chant his name.

He hadn't even told Pettitte or Jeter that it was a done deal.

"Andy is going to be pretty upset with me," Clemens said.

Clemens will have the same travel privileges he had with Houston last year, when he sometimes skipped road trips if he wasn't scheduled to pitch. Instead, he spent the time at home with his family and worked with Astros minor leaguers.

Yankees manager Joe Torre ran that issue by several clubhouse leaders who signed off on the arrangement, general manager Brian Cashman said.

"It's time to go to work," Clemens said. "I've got a lot of work to do to get back up here."

Traded from Toronto to the Yankees before the 1999 season, Clemens helped New York win consecutive World Series titles in his first two seasons in the Bronx. He won the AL Cy Young Award with a 20-3 record in 2001 and was a member of pennant winners that year and in 2003.

"As I pledged just a few days ago, I will do everything within my power to support Brian Cashman, Joe Torre and this team as we fight to bring a 27th championship to New York," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "Roger Clemens is a winner and a champion, and he is someone who can be counted on to help make this season one that all Yankees fans can be proud of. The sole mission of this organization is to win a world championship."

Updated on Sunday, May 6, 2007 5:33 pm EDT


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