The New York Yankees are planning to retire pitcher Andy Pettitte's number this season, but his years-old admission to using human growth hormone continues to cast a controversial shadow on what was otherwise a remarkable career.
Pettitte, who was named in the infamous Mitchell Report as one of many baseball players who took performance-enhancing drugs, admitted in 2008 he used human growth hormone.
Pettitte admitted to using HGH twice in 2002 and one more time in 2004 to help him recover from injuries. He claimed those were the only times he used performance-enhancing drugs and he later apologized.
Still, Pettitte doesn't believe he should be categorized with players who used PEDs throughout their careers. In an interview with WEPN-FM in New York on Wednesday, Pettitte said he has been upfront about his HGH use and that he didn't use it to gain a performance boost.
"People are going to say what they want to, believe what they want to. When you say PEDs to me, man, I just can't even comprehend that with me just because I don't really believe I tried to enhance my performance on the field," Pettitte said. "If I would have, I would have told y'all that. Man, my story has been an open book. When it all came out, I sat in the press conferences there for hours, I believe."
Pettitte also reiterated he used HGH only to help him recover faster from injuries.
"I was told that [HGH] might be able to help me heal from an injury, in a time when I was searching and desperate to get back on the field. When you say that -- and people are going to believe what they want to believe -- it makes me cringe.
"I've never tried to do anything to cheat to enhance my performance on the field."
The Yankees announced Monday they will retire Pettitte's No. 46 jersey during a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 23. A three-time All-Star, Pettitte was 256-153 with a 3.85 earned-run average over 18 major league seasons.