Roger Clemens won't be Yankee in 2008
BY ANTHONY McCARRON
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Thursday, January 3rd 2008, 4:00 AM
Is there a chance for the Rocket's third stage in pinstripes? Not likely, says Hank Steinbrenner.
So if embattled righthander Roger Clemens, who is fighting to restore his reputation after the allegations about him in the Mitchell Report, pitches a 25th season, it is probably not going to be in the Bronx.
"I'm not signing Clemens," Steinbrenner, the Yankees' senior vice president, said in a telephone interview yesterday. He said the Yanks are not looking for rotation stopgaps - like they were last season - because they are so enamored of their young starting pitchers. And Steinbrenner feels the Yanks already have a strong mentor to the young arms in Andy Pettitte, whom Steinbrenner praised for his "veteran leadership.
"Andy is (signed) for one year and he's only 35 and he knows how to pitch in the big games," Steinbrenner said. "Roger does, too, but let's face it, he's going to be 46 (in August).
"Pettitte is just as good with the young pitchers, though Clemens was great with the young kids last year. I don't think Roger is going to come back anyway."
The Yankees, like many teams, take very seriously the idea of veterans mentoring young pitchers. Last year, they put Joba Chamberlain's locker next to Clemens' in the clubhouse when Chamberlain was called up.
Clemens' personal trainer, Brian McNamee, accused him of using steroids and human growth hormone in the Mitchell Report, but the seven-time Cy Young Award winner has denied it. He is scheduled to address McNamee's claims in an interview with Mike Wallace on "60 Minutes," slated to air Sunday.
Joe Householder, a spokesman for Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said in an e-mail yesterday that Clemens will hold a press conference Monday afternoon "in or near downtown Houston."
Steinbrenner said he had not spoken to Clemens since the release of the Mitchell Report, but there's a reason for that. "I don't know him, really," Steinbrenner said. "Our paths didn't really cross. Never did."
Clemens has been "unretiring" since 2003, when most thought he waved goodbye to baseball when he came out of his Game4 start in the World Series against the Marlins. It is unclear whether Clemens will attempt to play next season, although there have been reports that say the Rocket will consider it. One of Clemens' agents, Randy Hendricks, did not return an e-mail yesterday seeking comment on his client's playing plans.
Since that 2003 Series start, Clemens pitched three seasons for the Astros and was 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA last year for the Yankees, who after being desperate for starting pitching, gave him a prorated $28million contract last season. He signed May 6 and made his first start in the majors on June9.
But he proved fragile, too. He lasted 2-1/3 innings in his Game3 start in the division series against the Indians because his left hamstring locked up. Groin issues delayed his first big-league outing and he started only twice in September because of an elbow problem, blisters on his right foot and a strained left hamstring.
Asked after his playoff start if he took a moment to consider that it might be his last game, Clemens curtly said, "No."