NEW YORK, May 6 – In the end, the decision wasn’t so difficult after all. Roger Clemens returned to the New York Yankees today, signing a prorated one year, $28 million contract that will end up paying the pitcher roughly $4.5 million per month.
Clemens will now be the centerpiece of a pitching staff with his best friend Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, and Chien-Ming Wang. The fifth starter is still up in the air, but it appears that 20-year old Phil Hughes is the best candidate once he returns from his hamstring injury.
Hughes, who has been compared to Clemens more times than not, will probably benefit the most from having Clemens, who has 348 career wins, around to teach him the ins and outs of pitching on the major league level. In addition to Hughes, the Yankees bullpen will benefit from not having to work as much as they have been; to date, they have pitched more innings than any other team in major league baseball.
Reactions from around the league were almost as expected. Astros manager Phil Garner said he wasn’t surprised at the move, sighting Andy Pettitte’s decision to return to New York as a major factor. Additionally, Curt Schilling echoed teammate Julian Tavarez’s belief that the Red Sox didn’t need to add the future Hall of Famer. “It would have been nice to have him,” Schilling said. “But we don’t need him. I could care less now. What’s done is done. I’m happy with what we’ve got. It hasn’t been a topic of conversation around here.”
Clearly Schilling isn’t talking to everyone in the organization, as a Red Sox official said publicly that the team gave Clemens a “substantial” offer, which in the end was trumped by what the Yankees were willing to offer him.
A timetable for Clemens’ return has not been set, but all indications show that he should be making his second Yankee debut sometime at the end of May or beginning of June, which is about a month earlier than Clemens previously stated he was going to start.