NEW YORK -- If Roger Clemens returns to the Yankees later this year, his old uniform will be waiting for him.
All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano has volunteered to give up his No. 22 for this season, according to a Yankees official, likely anticipating the possibility that Clemens will arrive in the Bronx to reclaim it at some point.
"I was happy to give up the number to a future Hall of Famer if he comes aboard," Cano said in Tuesday's edition of the New York Post. "Hopefully, he will be one of my teammates; I'll have the pleasure of playing with him."
Within the past week, Cano told clubhouse personnel that he would switch to uniform No. 24, a change that has been officially executed on the Yankees' roster.
With Spring Training less than three weeks away, uniforms are in the process of being tailored. The Yankees did not ask Cano to switch numbers, the official said.
At the 18th annual Baseball Assistance Team dinner in New York on Tuesday, Yankees catcher Jorge Posada shed some light on Cano's thought process.
"His dad's favorite player was Jackie Robinson, and he was named after Jackie Robinson," Posada said. "He wanted [No.] 42, but he couldn't have it, so he went with [No.] 24."
Clemens, 44, wore No. 22 for most of his five-year stay with the Yankees from 1999 to 2003, though he originally wore No. 12 -- a reversal of the uniform number he wore with the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. He made the switch from No. 21 because that number was issued to Paul O'Neill when Clemens joined the Yankees.
No. 21 has remained unassigned by the Yankees since O'Neill's retirement following the 2001 World Series.
But Clemens appears to hold a special affinity for No. 22, even negotiating his 2006 contract to contain a reference to the number -- had Clemens played a full season with the Houston Astros, his contract would have been worth a reported $22,000,022.
As it was, Clemens earned a pro-rated percentage of that salary after joining the club in late June, going 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 19 games for Houston.
The right-hander would not be expected to reach a decision regarding his playing future until at least after Spring Training. If Clemens plays, he is expected to choose among the Astros, Red Sox and Yankees.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.