Embree joins Yanks after being cut by Red Sox

Updated: July 30, 2005, 5:44 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez was walking through the New York Yankees' clubhouse Saturday morning when he stopped and did a double take.

Alan Embree
Relief Pitcher
Boston Red Sox
43 1 4 11 30 7.65

Surprise! Rodriguez had a new teammate -- a familiar foe, in fact.

Left-hander Alan Embree signed with the pitching-starved Yankees on Saturday, hoping to bolster their bullpen as they chase his former team, the Boston Red Sox, in the AL East.

Released by the Red Sox on Friday after being designated for assignment 10 days earlier, Embree was fishing back home in Oregon before he agreed to a deal with New York late Friday night.

He jumped on a redeye flight from Portland, landed at 8:15 a.m. and said it felt as though he was "behind enemy lines" when he arrived at Yankee Stadium on Saturday morning.

"I got rid of my Boston bag as quick as I could," Embree said. "I had them put it away. I've still got some stuff in there."

To make room for Embree, the Yankees designated left-hander Buddy Groom for assignment. They have 10 days to trade, release or send him outright to the minors.

The 35-year-old Embree said he also considered signing with San Diego. He will be paid the major league minimum for the rest of the season -- but he got a no-trade clause in his contract with the Yankees.

"He didn't want to sign here and then in a week be traded," general manager Brian Cashman said. "I think that was the deciding factor."

The Yankees are Embree's eighth team in 12 major league seasons. A durable and reliable reliever for years, he slipped to 1-4 with a 7.65 ERA and one save in 43 games for Boston this season -- but thinks he was throwing the ball better in his last 10 outings or so after correcting a flaw in his mechanics.

"I struggled. I had a point where I wasn't making pitches. I wasn't executing," Embree said. "[These] guys had a need for a left-handed reliever, and I needed a spot. Fortunately, they thought I was qualified."

The 40-year-old Groom was 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA in 24 appearances with New York.

"We just feel that Embree may have a little more velocity," manager Joe Torre said.

Embree, who got the last out for Boston in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series at Yankee Stadium last October, took Andy Pettitte's old No. 46 and was available for Saturday's game against the Angels. He stayed sharp after he was cut by throwing off a mound and running.

Embree knows he could be called upon to get one of his ex-teammates out in a key spot down the stretch -- especially lefty slugger David Ortiz.

New York began the day 2½ games behind the first-place Red Sox.

"I'm looking forward to this chapter," said Embree, who got a big hug from Jason Giambi in the clubhouse. "It's a friendly camp for me now. It's a good fit for me. I feel comfortable. ... I like this ballclub. I faced it so much, I know it so well."

He even knew the team rules. After chatting with Torre on Saturday morning, Embree headed for the nearest sink and shaved off his goatee.

"Tough," Embree said. "My daughter liked it, my wife hated it."

The Yankees designated LHP Alex Graman for assignment Friday to make room for RHP Shawn Chacon, who started on Saturday.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press