Clemens can't wait to get started

Clemens can't wait to get started

NEW YORK -- Roger Clemens is well aware of the Yankees' struggles this season.

He knows his new team started Wednesday tied with the Devil Rays at the bottom of the division, riding a five-game losing streak and sitting 14 1/2 games behind arch-rival Boston at 21-29.

"It's not good, we all know that, so we've just got to turn it around," Clemens said after addressing the estimated 10,000 fans attending Pinstripes in the Park, presented by Continental Airlines, at Manhattan's Bryant Park on Wednesday. "I suspect those guys will give me a lot of help and I'll try to give them all the help I can."

Just as the Rocket finished his statement, Johnny Damon smacked the sixth pitch of the game for a home run and a Yankees lead, sending the crowd watching the Yankees-Blue Jays game on a big screen into a frenzy.

The homer also brought some excitement to the 44-year-old Clemens, who pointed to his wife, Debbie, seated in front of him and said "See, see?"

Clemens will officially get his first chance to help the Bronx Bombers in Chicago on Monday, with the Rocket's 2007 debut confirmed by manager Joe Torre before Wednesday's game in Toronto after Clemens threw a successful bullpen session at Yankee Stadium earlier in the day.

"So far so good," said Clemens, dressed in a Yankee blue cap and polo with blue jeans and light blue cowboy boots. "I got the word when I got out of the car today that Joe announced that it's Monday. I can plan accordingly now."

Clemens has made three Minor League starts since signing a prorated $28 million contract with the Yankees earlier this month.

After one start each at Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, the Rocket made his final Minor League start Monday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He allowed two hits and struck out six over six scoreless innings.

The Yankees were considering throwing Clemens in this weekend's series in Boston. But the Yankees already have their top three starters -- Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte -- lined up for the Red Sox series.

The topic came up during a phone conversation between Clemens and Torre on Tuesday night.

"I said I felt fine and would do whatever he wants me to do and whatever he needs me to do," Clemens said. "We were looking at the rotation, and I realized that they looked like they're lined up pretty good for Boston."

And what of the extra drama if Clemens had made his debut in Fenway Park this weekend, for the team he broke into the Majors with?

"There's drama wherever I go," Clemens said. "Every start that I pitch -- if it's a Wednesday in Minnesota or a businessman's special -- it's important to me."

Peter Zellen is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.