ST. LOUIS (AP) -The Houston Astros were disappointed though hardly shocked when Roger Clemens chose the New York Yankees on Sunday, pointing to the Yankees' deep pockets and the Andy Pettitte factor.
Clemens and Pettitte were Astros teammates the last three seasons, and now Clemens has followed Pettitte to New York with a $28 million, one-year contract that kicks in when he's added to the major league roster, a deal that'll likely pay him $18.5 million for four months on the mound.
The Astros wanted to pay him for three months, a big difference in pay. Clemens pitched for three months in 2006 with a $22 million contract that paid him $12.2 million.
``I think our preference was three given that it worked well last year,'' general manager Tim Purpura said. ``He was very strong at the end, but it didn't seem to be any kind of deal breaker.
``Clearly, I think the Yankees came on strong and made a big push and now he's there.''
Purpura said Clemens was no doubt influenced by the chance to be reunited with Pettitte.
``I think it's a significant factor,'' Purpura said. ``They're very close and I think Andy is kind of bearing the brunt of the workload over there right now.
``He's obviously in a situation where they can use some help, and it's a good fit from that point of view.''
Of course, catcher Brad Ausmus wishes both were still playing for the Astros.
``They're big-game winning pitchers,'' Ausmus said. ``I loved playing with them, I loved working with them, but it's done.
``We have to put it in the rearview mirror and maybe we'll see them down the line.''
Without Clemens, the Astros' rotation past Roy Oswalt is rather nondescript, filled out by Wandy Rodriguez, Woody Williams, Matt Albers and Chris Sampson.
``We went into this offseason knowing that we may not have Roger,'' Purpura said. ``That's the way we built our club. We spent the money that we had budgeted and we're pleased we've got very good young pitching.''
Manager Phil Garner said he was ``somewhat disappointed.''
``You guys know what I think of Rocket,'' Garner said. ``He's fun to watch. I'll watch him with great interest.''
Garner never got his hopes up.
``It was totally out of my mind and out of my sight,'' he said. ``If we got him, I'm happy but if it didn't work out, we were prepared to go on.
``We built this ballclub, which was a wise thing to do, not waiting on a decision from Clemens.''
Purpura said the Astros had a ``couple of meetings'' with Clemens' agents, the Hendricks brothers, including one in the final week of April. But he said talks were more of a general nature.

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