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Sox caught by surprise by Rocket

Posted by Gordon Edes, Globe Staff  May 6, 2007 04:46 PM

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The story is still developing, but the early indications are that the Red Sox were caught by surprise by Roger Clemens's decision to sign with the Yankees, which he announced in dramatic fashion from the owner's box at Yankee Stadium this afternoon.

The Sox, according to early indications, only learned of Clemens's decision to go to the Bombers a couple of hours earlier, which was also the case in Houston, where Astros GM Tim Purpura received a call earlier this afternoon from Randy Hendricks, one of Clemens's agents, informing him that the Rocket was not returning to his hometown.

The Sox, according to club sources, had made a bid for Clemens, but had been told by his agents that Clemens would make a decision in a timely manner. That timetable and process was accelerated far beyond what the Sox expected when Clemens, during the seventh-inning stretch, announced he was back with the Bombers after a two-year hiatus.

Clemens will need some time to get in shape, but it appears he is on track to pitch against the Red Sox when the Yanks visit Fenway Park June 1-3.

"Well, they came and got me out of Texas and I can tell you it's a privilege to be back," Clemens told the crowd, according to the Associated Press. "I'll be talking to y'all soon."

"It's time to go to work," Clemens said. "I've got a lot of work to do to get back up here."

The Yankees reportedly will pay Clemens a pro-rated $28 million for the balance of the season. He reportedly will have the same travel privileges he enjoyed with the Astros, which allowed him to skip some trips.

"As I pledged just a few days ago, I will do everything within my power to support Brian Cashman, Joe Torre and this team as we fight to bring a 27th championship to New York," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "Roger Clemens is a winner and a champion, and he is someone who can be counted on to help make this season one that all Yankees fans can be proud of. The sole mission of this organization is to win a world championship."

Clemens, who told reporters that Derek Jeter had been on him regularly to come back, said: "Let's face it -- these guys know how to win."

Houston owner Drayton McLane told MLB.com that he was disappointed with Clemens's decision.

"Tim (Purpura) and I met with Randy Hendricks two weeks ago and discussed several items,'' McLane said. "We saw Roger often at spring training as well. We were hoping to have more time to talk. This happened faster than anybody thought."

Clemens said the entire process happened within the past 48 hours or so, and he didn't even tell Pettitte or Jeter that it was a done deal.

"Andy is going to be pretty upset with me," Clemens said.

Clemens will have the same travel privileges he had with Houston last year, when he sometimes skipped road trips if he wasn't scheduled to pitch. Instead, he spent the time at home with his family or working with Astros minor leaguers.

Yankees manager Joe Torre ran that issue by several clubhouse leaders who signed off on the arrangement, general manager Brian Cashman said.

"It's time to go to work," Clemens said. "I've got a lot of work to do to get back up here."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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