Back to the Bronx (cont.)
Posted: Sunday May 6, 2007 5:34PM; Updated: Sunday May 6, 2007 6:51PM
Word is, Clemens has been intrigued by the idea of returning to the Bronx, that he missed the action and playoff atmosphere (though it must be noted that he made the World Series with Houston in 2005 while the Yankees haven't been there since he left). Of course, it didn't hurt that the Yankees -- both their players and front office staff -- have been working over Clemens for months.
Robinson Cano, who didn't even know Clemens, voluntarily surrendered Clemens' No. 22 before spring training even began. Clemens' friends Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi have been calling and texting him for weeks. And Steinbrenner put his arm around Clemens when he came to watch Pettitte pitch in Tampa this spring.
Clemens is known to like GM Brian Cashman very much, and that didn't hurt either. Cashman has come under heat in recent days for pitching decisions that have turned sour -- notably the signing of Pavano, who now it turns out could be out all year -- but he has been close to Clemens since acquiring him as one of his first major moves after becoming the Yankees' general manager.
Cashman has noticed that the Yankees have made some wrong pitching calls in recent years, not only on Pavano but also Jeff Weaver, Javier Vazquez, Jose Contreras and others. But the moves to re-sign Pettitte and Clemens make sense because they know these are two guys who can thrive in New York.
Clemens pitched brilliantly three straight seasons in Houston after announcing his "retirement'' following the 2003 season. There are some who'll suggest he won't be able to duplicate what he's done there, which included a 38-18 record and ERAs of 2.98, 1.87 and 2.30, with his return to the American League. But know that he won twice as many as he lost with at times very poor run support in Houston. With the Yankees, he shouldn't have that problem. The Yankees have had their share of problems this year, but they have the best and to-date most productive offense in baseball.
They just had horrendous pitching. Until now, that is.
There has even been word recently that the Yankees have offered to accommodate Clemens' schedule, even beyond the late starting time of June 1, that they'd let him escape to Houston on occasion. They may not announce that publicly, but that is the word. The Yankees have been very strict about their team regulations in the past. But desperate times call for exceptions. And this was one of those very desperate times for the Yankees.