Legal maneuvers

Roger Clemens' lawyer wouldn't commit yesterday to having the pitcher give a deposition to congressional investigators, even as he said the seven-time Cy Young Award winner remains willing to testify in open session before a House committee investigating denials that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, was likely to meet this week with staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has asked him to testify Feb. 13 along with his accuser, former trainer Brian McNamee. The committee wants to take depositions from the pair along with New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, former Yankee Chuck Knoblauch and Kirk Radomski, the former New York Mets clubhouse attendant who has admitted supplying players with steroids and human growth hormone.


Hardin wouldn't directly answer questions about a deposition.

"There has been absolutely no change in Roger's willingness and indeed desire to testify under oath before Congress in a public hearing at a date of the Oversight Committee's choosing," Hardin said in a statement.


McNamee told baseball drugs investigator George Mitchell that he injected Clemens with steroids and hGH in 1998, 2000 and 2001, allegations the pitcher denies., citing an unidentified individual familiar with the inquiry, reported that Hardin is hedging on whether Clemens will give a deposition because it could interfere with the defamation suit Clemens filed against McNamee on Jan. 6.

"This backtracking by Hardin is indicative of him getting cold feet. Roger will never testify," said Richard Emery, one of McNamee's lawyers.

A deposition allows staff lawyers for the committee time to push witnesses on points in ways congressmen often don't. Any inconsistencies between the deposition and later testimony during a hearing could be exposed.

In the opener of Congress' hearing, commissioner Bud Selig, union head Donald Fehr and Mitchell are to testify before the committee tomorrow.

Braves -- Mark Kotsay appears headed for Atlanta to fill Andruw Jones' spot in center field. The Braves reached a tentative deal late Saturday to acquire the oft-injured Kotsay from the Athletics for reliever Joey Devine and cash, according to several media reports. The trade is contingent on Kotsay's passing a physical and the commissioner's office approving the money involved in the deal.