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Thursday, January 15, 2004
Clemens still considers himself 'a Yankee' news services

NEW YORK -- Roger Clemens had only good things to say about the New York Yankees a few days after coming out of retirement and signing with his hometown Houston Astros.

"I still consider myself a Yankee," Clemens told Michael Kay on ESPN Radio in New York on Wednesday.

Many reacted harshly in New York when Clemens signed with Houston, calling the future Hall of Famer a traitor. The back-page headline on Tuesday's New York Post read "What An Asstro."

Clemens does not believe Yankees fans really feel that way.

"What gets put on a back page by an editor to try to persuade people, I think the fans are smarter than that, anyway," Clemens told Kay.

"The New York fans that I've run into have been nothing but supportive. The only ones who weren't supportive were Cubs fans who said, 'Stay retired.' "

The six-time Cy Young Award winner signed a one-year contract for $5 million with Houston on Monday, three months after pitching for the Yankees in the World Series against the Florida Marlins.

Clemens said at the end of last season he was 99 percent sure he would retire, but he was lured to Houston after good friend and former Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte signed with the Astros.

"I had no intentions of playing," Clemens said. "Then when Andy signed, that's when everything started changing.

"If Andy Pettitte was a Yankee, I'd still be retired."

Clemens has said he wants a Yankees cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

He also told Kay that speculation that he signed with the Astros out of spite for the Yankees failing to keep Pettitte was ridiculous. Clemens said he received a letter from George Steinbrenner "thanking me for everything, and the feeling's mutual."

"Roger Clemens was a great performer," Steinbrenner said in a statement. "I only have the best things to say about him. I'm not at all bitter about what happened."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.