Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte denied allegations that they had used performance-enhancing drugs, with Clemens saying he was angry and Pettitte saying he was embarrassed by a report that first appeared in The Times.
“I’m not embarrassed at all,” Clemens said in the Houston clubhouse Sunday morning before the Astros were eliminated from playoff contention by a 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. “I’m angry about it. It just shouldn’t happen.”
Clemens and Pettitte, his Astros teammate, were among six players named in a federal agent’s affidavit connected to the investigation of former pitcher Jason Grimsley. A source revealed to The Times names on the affidavit that originally had been blacked out when the document was filed in federal court.
Clemens called the act of leaking the names “very dangerous and malicious and reckless” and said he would consider legal action if one of his sponsors decided to drop him as a client as a result of the allegations.
The Astros pitchers said they had heard rumors that their names were included in the affidavit several months ago but didn’t know for sure until The Times’ report surfaced Saturday night. The other players named on the affidavit were Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts, Jay Gibbons and David Segui.
“I’m stunned, obviously,” Pettitte said. “To tell you the truth, I would have bet my life that there was no way possible my name could even be on the affidavit.”
Clemens and Pettitte reiterated that they had never tested positive for any banned substance under Major League Baseball’s 3-year-old testing policy, and Clemens said he had passed what he described as “more strenuous” Olympics-style testing for the World Baseball Classic.
“I’ve been tested plenty of times,” said Clemens, 44. “My physicals I’ve taken, they’ve taken my blood work [and] I’ve passed every test anybody wants.”
Pettitte, 34, said he was especially disappointed because, “I absolutely killed myself over my career to work as hard as I possibly can to be as good as I possibly can and have it done natural.”
In Boston, the Orioles’ Gibbons reiterated his innocence and said he and his teammates get tired of the drug questions.
“It’s obviously a distraction, and you hate distractions in the clubhouse,” Gibbons told the Baltimore Sun. “It’d be nice for this to all be behind us, and it will be eventually. It’s something that we don’t like dealing with.”
Tejada, the Orioles’ shortstop, became frustrated when reporters continued to question him after he said he didn’t want to comment.
“What can I do? I spent one morning last year with Grimsley,” Tejada told the Sun. “I mean, I already got thrown under the bus with Palmeiro. No, I don’t worry about that.”
Former Orioles player Rafael Palmeiro was suspended last season for using steroids and later suggested to a federal committee that the positive test might have resulted from a tainted supply of vitamin B-12 he got from Tejada. The committee cleared Tejada.
Segui, a former Orioles player, questioned the reliability of Grimsley, who played for the Orioles in 2004 and 2005.
“Here’s a guy who was put in a situation where he was scared and started talking, probably thinking that he was going to help himself in some way,” Segui told the Sun. “Obviously it doesn’t, but it causes problems for people who have nothing to do with his situation. Unless you’ve seen them do [drugs], unless you’ve had conversations with them about it, or injected them, then you have no grounds to make a statement like that at all, to even bring their names into it.”
Roberts, also of the Orioles, told the Sun that the accusations were “ridiculous.”
Clemens and Pettitte were Grimsley’s teammates with the New York Yankees in 1999 and 2000 but said they never worked out with the journeyman relief pitcher, who retired over the summer after acknowledging his use of steroids, amphetamines and other drugs, according to the affidavit.
However, Clemens and Pettitte acknowledged an ongoing relationship with former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee, who Grimsley told investigators in the affidavit had helped Grimsley obtain amphetamines, steroids and human growth hormone through a third party. Clemens worked with McNamee during spring training and called him “one of the best” trainers; Pettitte said he still talked to McNamee about once a week.
“Mac has trained me professionally for a long time, and I’ll continue to use Mac,” Pettitte said. “He’s one of a kind.”
Pettitte also described his relationship with Grimsley, a fellow Texan, in glowing terms, calling Grimsley “a very close friend of mine” when they were Yankees teammates. “When he was with the Royals or the Orioles and I played against him,” Pettitte said, “I would go back and give him a hug and say, ‘How’s the family doing?’ ”
Houston players and club officials seemed irritated by the accusations, especially considering that they surfaced at a time when the Astros needed to beat the Braves in their regular-season finale to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. It helped that neither Clemens nor Pettitte was the scheduled starter Sunday.
“If either one of them were pitching, it would be a lot worse,” first baseman Lance Berkman said before the game. “It’s certainly not something we enjoy talking about or dealing with, but at the same time I’m not going to be thinking about it when I’m facing [John] Smoltz up there, I can guarantee you that.”
Pitcher Roy Oswalt called the charges “just somebody running off at the mouth. You try to throw out big names and get a response from it.... Anybody who knows those guys, you don’t have to worry about either one of them doing anything like that.”
Asked how he thought Clemens was able to maintain his Cy Young Award-winning form so late in a 23-season career, Oswalt said: “If you watched the way Roger worked from when he first got here, you knew it wasn’t from using something. You knew he put his time in and he knew how to treat his body.”
Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones also seemed skeptical that Clemens or Pettitte had used performance-enhancing drugs. Jones played with Clemens in the World Baseball Classic in the spring and competed against Clemens and Pettitte in the 1999 World Series.
“I would be very surprised if there was any wrongdoing on the part of those two guys,” Jones said. “The integrity of those two men is close to untouchable as far as I’m concerned.”
Jones said there seemed to be a troubling trend involving players who had run afoul of Major League Baseball implicating others in an effort to lessen the burden on themselves.
“It’s a situation where unfortunately a guy’s going down and is trying to take as many people as he can with him,” Jones said. “It’s really a shame. I don’t understand what the big deal is when people are done playing having to bring everyone down with them. You saw it in [Jose] Canseco’s case, you saw it in [Ken] Caminiti’s case and now some other people are following suit. It’s not right.”