The big story yesterday was that Robinson Cano has switched his uniform number from 22 to 24 in anticipation of the still entirely speculative arrival of free agent Roger Clemens, who has worn number 22 for the Yankees and Astros since early 1999. The story was broken by the New York Post‘s Michael Morrissey, who reported that the team asked Cano to make the switch. Subsequent articles on ESPN and MLB.com reported that it was Cano that approached the team with the idea for the switch. An MLB.com radio interview with the writer of the later piece, Bryan Hoch, provided a clue to the most likely scenario. Since rosters are currently being finalized and uniforms tailored, the Yankees likely approached Cano about the possibility of having to switch numbers mid-season, offering to let him switch now instead. Cano likely opted to switch now–no doubt with some gentle nudging from the team looking for some cheap headlines in a slow news cycle and a chance to make an overture to Clemens–and the team subsequently spun the decision as Cano’s. For what it’s worth, Cano wore number 14 when first called up in May of 2005 and is named after Jackie Robinson, whose number 42 is the inverse of 24 (and is already taken by Mariano Rivera and otherwise retired throughout baseball). Tino Martinez was wearing number 24 during Cano’s rookie year when he switched from 14 to 22. Last year 24 was only used briefly by Sidney Ponson.
As for Clemens, he was seen sporting one of his Yankee World Series rings at the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend, which suggests to me that the chances of him returning to the Bronx are excellent. Last season Clemens made public appearances wearing Astros gear prior to resigning with the team. Per Morrissey’s article, Clemens’s agent, Randy Hendricks, recently said that Roger’s decision won’t come until after the start of spring training and possibly not until after the start of the regular season. Last year, Clemens didn’t sign with the Astros until May 31 and didn’t make his first start for them until June 22 (there’s that number again). By then the 20-year-old Philip Hughes very well may have eliminated the Yankees’ need for the 44-year-old Rocket. Either way, by June the Yankees look to be in a great position regarding the rotation spot vacated by the Randy Johnson trade.
In other non-news, Bernie Williams‘ retirement is looking increasingly imminent as the Yankees don’t appear to be willing to offer him anything beyond a minor league contract and an invite to spring training where he really wouldn’t even have a job to fight for.
Finally, Yahoo!’s Tim Brown takes a look at former Yankee prospect and 1998 World Series hero Ricky Ledee who has been through seven organizations in his nine-year career and may very well have run out of employers at the age of 33. Whenever I think of Ledee, who was sent to Cleveland in the David Justice deal in mid-2000, I recall his pre-game interviews with Michael Kay on WABC in which Ricky, fighting Shane Spencer and Chad Curtis for the left field job, repeatedly insisted “I weel heet” in a tone of voice that betrayed his lack of belief in what he was saying. Outside of a few small samples, he never did hit.