Notes: Henn beats out Britton
Lefty reliever remains on Yankees roster as Clemens returns
NEW YORK -- Chris Britton and Sean Henn both reported early to Yankee Stadium on Saturday, with both relievers figuring they had about a 50-50 chance of actually being on the roster come game time.
With Roger Clemens finally roaming the Yankees clubhouse, outfitted in a black polo shirt, blue jeans and glad-handing old friends and acquaintances, a roster move would have to be made to accommodate The Rocket's re-launch.
So while both pitchers prepared for a game as usual, donning their mesh batting practice jerseys and heading out for warmups, they waited for the inevitable and tried to handicap their chances.
"We've been pretty much [figuring] that it's either going to be me or him," Henn said before batting practice. "Maybe we're thinking about it too much, but you figure at some point, they're going to need another position player anyway. There's nothing you can do but go about your business; it's part of the life."
The roster move finally came after batting practice, as Britton, having just completed his throwing in the outfield, was tapped and optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Britton appeared just once since being summoned from the Minor Leagues for last weekend's series at Fenway Park in Boston, throwing three innings on Monday against the White Sox in relief of since-optioned starter Matt DeSalvo.
"It was a tough decision, even though probably by the next time we go on the road trip, we'll send another pitcher out," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "We just felt Sean Henn seems to be improving. He's probably closer to the long man we'd like to have."
Henn's stay with the Yankees is indefinite. The Yankees are still carrying 13 pitchers and almost certainly will option one to add a position player for the club's upcoming series at National League parks. In the meantime, he's packing light, carrying just enough clothing and equipment to get him to his next destination.
"That's another part of the deal," Henn said.
Welcome back: Clemens roamed the Yankees' clubhouse before throwing his first pitch of the afternoon at 1:08 p.m. ET, which came roughly four hours after his arrival in the Bronx.
Walking into the stadium with pitching coach Ron Guidry, Clemens was one of the first Yankees players to arrive at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, even beating the manager to the ballpark by a good 20 minutes. Torre said that Clemens wanted to get his handshakes and hugs -- of which there were many -- out of the way before locking into game mode.
"He certainly has a great presence," Torre said. "The guys were happy to see him. There were a lot of hugs in there early."
In a piece of pre-start business, Clemens finally moved into his old locker neighborhood, reassuming the stall he occupied during his first stint with the Yankees. Even the nameplate remained the same; the Yankees' clubhouse staff keeps most on hand after a player's departure just in case a player returns to the Yankees.
Torre said that he finally had an opportunity to sit down with Clemens and discuss The Rocket's re-entry prior to Saturday's start. Clemens and Torre have conversed, sometimes via e-mail and sometimes -- like on Friday afternoon -- via missed cell phone messages, but Torre said it was good to sit down and have an opportunity to hash out a setup for Clemens face-to-face.
"This is the start of something we hope will be very special for us the rest of the way, at a point in our season where we think we're making a statement," Torre said. "He certainly can enhance that."
Take a seat: Just when it looked like Miguel Cairo might be getting used to a role as an everyday player, he found himself back on the bench for Saturday's matinee, resting as Josh Phelps made the start at first base.
Cairo had made four consecutive starts -- three at first base and one at shortstop -- and was batting .333 (6-for-18) over that brief period, but Torre said he is mindful of not burning Cairo out.
"He hadn't played for about a month and a half, and now we're taking him for granted," Torre said. "It's more or less not wanting to push our luck at this point in time. He'll be out there for defense."
Cairo said that he does not have designs on being considered the Yankees' starting first baseman with Doug Mientkiewicz on the disabled list and six to eight weeks away. Torre has said recently that Cairo's defense is considered superior to Phelps', but that Phelps may provide more power offensively.
"My role is a utility player," Cairo said. "I come here every day and see if my name is in the lineup. If it's not, I'll be ready in the late innings to pinch-hit, pinch-run or play defense. Other than that, I'll stay on the bench and cheer on my team."
Good talk: Mike Mussina received an explanation from Torre before Saturday's game regarding what the right-hander saw as a quick hook from his start on Thursday, when Mussina was pulled in the seventh inning after 79 pitches.
"It wasn't the fact that I didn't have confidence in him," Torre said. "At the time, I was trying to get a strikeout."
This and that: Torre said that closer Mariano Rivera was likely unavailable after a two-inning appearance in Friday's game, leaving Kyle Farnsworth "probably" as the club's closer by default for the day. ... The Yankees have a Major League-best 105-73 record since Interleague Play began in 1997. ... Mientkiewicz's surgery is set for Tuesday at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser will perform the procedure.
Coming up: The Yankees will wrap up their three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, sending right-hander Tyler Clippard (3-1, 3.60 ERA) to the mound.
Pittsburgh counters with a former Yankee, right-hander Shawn Chacon (2-0, 3.26 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET on the YES Network.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.