2007_05_sclemens.jpgYankees fans can now rejoice, because Roger Clemens is returning to the New York Yankees. The 44-year old right-hander, who last pitched for the Houston Astros last season, announced his plans to the crowd during the 7th inning stretch of today's Yankees-Mariners game (audio from WCBS), "Well, they came and got me out of Texas. I can tell you, it's a privilege to be back. I'll be talking to y'all soon." How surprising was the announcement? When Clemens left his house this morning, his wife knew, but not his children. Clemens, who has come out of retirement several times, last pitched for the Yankees in 2003. While with the Yankees, Clemens won two World Series rings, in 1999 and 2000. Last season, he was 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts with the Astros.

After his announcement from the owner's box, the Yankee Stadium crowd gave Clemens a "great reception." Clemens said he hopes to come back to the Yankees and help them "get the job done" and that he chose the Yankees because he's comfortable around the other players on the Yankees and has friends on the team, most notably Andy Pettitte. Last season with the Astros, Clemens was paid $22 million. While no contract terms were announced, we think that the Yankees will be paying more than the Astros last year as they're more desperate and they don't get a home town discount. After the game, Randy Hendricks told the media that they went with the Yankees because they were ready for Clemens now. The Astros and Boston Red Sox, who were the other teams being discussed, didn't want Clemens until late June or July.

The return of Clemens, who turns 45 in August, can't come soon enough for the Yankees who have been cursed with early-season injuries to their pitching rotation. Clemens plans to sit down with Yankees officials in the next 48 hours to figure out a timeline, but he hopes to be back by the end of the month or by early June. The addition gives the Yankees a formidable rotation - Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, Pettitte, and Clemens.

Photo of Roger Clemens at the Sundance Film Festival by AP/Kevork Djansezian