Pettitte thinks Clemens will pitch in '07

Pettitte thinks Rocket will pitch in '07

NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte believes that his good friend, Roger Clemens, will pitch again in 2007.

Where that will be, however, remains anybody's guess.

Pettitte, who was officially introduced as the Yankees' newest starting pitcher during a conference call on Thursday, thinks that Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young winner, will continue his Hall of Fame career next season, but he won't speculate whether it will be in Houston, New York or Boston.

"He's continued to come back and he continues to be the best pitcher in the league, so why wouldn't he play?" Pettitte said. "That's my take on it. I'm sure he'll come back and play; who with? I have no idea. That will be a major decision that he has to make in his life."

The Yankees figure to be major players for Clemens if and when he decides to return for a 24th season in the Majors. With 348 career victories, Clemens ranks first among all active pitchers and eighth all-time. He stands 13 wins behind Kid Nichols for seventh, 15 behind Warren Spahn for sixth and 16 behind Pud Galvin for fifth.

Pettitte did not consult with Clemens while he made his decision to leave Houston for New York, but the two men spoke the day after Pettitte reached his deal with the Yankees.

Clemens was glad to see Pettitte return to the Bronx, where he won 149 regular-season games from 1995-2003, placing him ninth on the all-time list. Pettitte stands 87 victories behind the team's all-time leader, Whitey Ford.

"I'd seen some quotes where he said he'd like to see me go back to New York and chase Whitey's record -- though I doubt very seriously I'll put in the years that would take," Pettitte said. "He was excited for me. He knows it was a tough decision for me. He called to congratulate me, and basically to let me know he'll be seeing me -- to play golf and stuff, one way or the other."

Clemens played 13 seasons in Boston, five in New York and the last three in Houston. Randy Hendricks, who represents both Clemens and Pettitte, has said that those three clubs are the only ones that Clemens would consider, but Clemens doesn't appear close to making a decision.

Dining out: General manager Brian Cashman planned to dine with Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa on Thursday night, as the Yankees and Igawa move closer to a five-year, $20 million deal.

Igawa took a tour of New York on Wednesday, including a visit to Yankee Stadium, while he was scheduled to undergo a physical on Thursday. Igawa is set to return to Japan on Saturday, but the deal might not be announced by the Yankees until next week.

Cashman said that Thursday's dinner would give him and Igawa a chance to get to know each other.

"I'm sure he's going to have some questions," Cashman said. "Certainly I'm going to ask a lot of questions, get a chance to get a feel how he prepares for his starts and for each season. I'm sure he'll have questions about Major League Baseball, so I look forward to breaking bread with him."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.