Clemens works out in Kentucky
Rocket expected to join Class A Tampa later this month
NEW YORK -- Roger Clemens' path to Yankee Stadium began Tuesday at the University of Kentucky, where the right-hander pitched off a mound wearing pinstriped pants and a Yankees cap.
According to reports, Clemens -- who agreed to a pro-rated one-year, $28 million contract to rejoin the Yankees, for whom he pitched from 1999 through 2003 -- threw an assortment of fastballs, splitters and breaking balls during the workout.
"The arm feels good," Clemens told The Associated Press. "Right now, I've just got to get that soreness that every pitcher understands.
"I've got to get it in my legs and out as quick as possible so that I know I can handle the stress of a Major League game."
Clemens, 44, also worked out last season in Lexington, Ky., on his way back to the big leagues with the Houston Astros. Those workouts were conducted at the home stadium of the Class A Lexington Legends, where Clemens' son, Koby, is a third baseman in the Astros chain.
Astros general manager Tim Purpura told the Houston Chronicle that such an arrangement would be "inappropriate" given Clemens' employment with the Yankees.
The hurler agreed, opting to work out at the university's Cliff Hagan Stadium before heading to the Legends' home game on Tuesday evening. He is expected to work out with the University of Kentucky Wildcats baseball team for the remainder of the week.
"I'm assuming he was fine. And he'll eventually find his way to Tampa and start the clock for us," Yankees manager Joe Torre said before Tuesday's game in New York against the Rangers. "It's nice to know you have something coming."
Clemens announced his return to the Yankees in dramatic fashion on Sunday, popping up in principal owner George Steinbrenner's private suite during the seventh-inning stretch of a game against the Mariners and telling fans that it was a "privilege to be back."
He is expected to require a series of Minor League appearances on his path to preparing for big-league duty, with a definitive schedule yet to be set.
Torre has suggested that Clemens could need as few as two starts in the Minors before joining the Major League rotation, though three and four appearances are also considered likely.
"That's the thing about Roger," Torre said. "He knows his body and knows what it's going to take. Now, is it going to take two rehab starts or three? I don't think he knows that yet."
Clemens is expected to join Class A Tampa of the Florida State League later this month, working out at the Yankees' Legends Field complex.
|"My innermost thoughts and feelings that I'm keeping close to my heart, when it's all said and done at the end of the year, I'll tell you the exact reasons why I did what I did."|
|-- Roger Clemens|
"Everything is being done on the run," Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, told MLB.com in an e-mail. "He might go to Chicago because the Yankees play the White Sox there in early June. This would give him a feel for the mound."
Asked about that circumstance following the Yankees' 8-2 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday, Torre said he was not sure that Clemens would be permitted to do so, given his current status as a Minor League player.
"I'm not sure that's going to be the case," Torre said. "He'll either do that or go to Tampa. Right now, he's in the Minor Leagues. I'm not sure what he can do."
Having slumped through April with a 9-14 record and hindered by inconsistent and injured starting pitching, the Yankees' need for Clemens was great.
Negotiations intensified during the Yankees' May 1-3 series at Texas, with general manager Brian Cashman and Hendricks eventually hammering out the framework of a deal, relying in large part on a series of text messages and e-mails.
In Lexington on Tuesday, Clemens admitted that he still has yet to physically sign the contract, though the team and the player are operating on a mutual agreement of the deal.
He did, however, respond to comments made by former Yankees teammate David Wells, who is critical of the so-called "family plan" Clemens will have with the Yankees, allowing him to leave the team when he's not scheduled to pitch.
Torre said he cleared Clemens' arrangement with Yankees players and personnel in Spring Training, but Wells -- Clemens' New York teammate in 2002 and 2003 -- told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he did not approve of the idea.
"I don't think I would ever do it because of the fact I personally think it would disrespect the team and your teammates," Wells told the newspaper. "You look at the other players. How are they going to respect you? What are they going to think if you're not there pulling for the team?"
Clemens opted not to mention Wells by name in his response.
"It sure is funny hearing the comments," Clemens told reporters. "To hear a couple of my ex-teammates -- I won't mention names -- but he's trying to critique my season or the game of baseball.
"It's pretty comical to have a couple of them say the things they did. They might need to look in the mirror a little bit."
Clemens told reporters in Kentucky that his decision to re-launch with the Yankees should not have been perceived as a slight to his other two suitors, the Houston Astros or Boston Red Sox.
Both clubs were looking to Clemens to join their Major League teams later in the season to keep his valued right arm fresh for a push at the postseason.
The Yankees, by contrast, told Clemens and Hendricks that they would be ready for him as soon as Clemens felt prepared to pitch.
"Every decision you make might not make somebody else happy," Clemens told the AP. "I wish there were three of me. I really do.
"My innermost thoughts and feelings that I'm keeping close to my heart, when it's all said and done at the end of the year, I'll tell you the exact reasons why I did what I did."
A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens has a career record of 348-178 with a 3.10 ERA and 4,604 strikeouts in 691 Major League games with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros.
Clemens made his first start last season for the Astros on June 22 after signing a contract on May 31. He went 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts for Houston, walking 29 and striking out 102 in 113 1/3 innings.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.