Seven-time Cy Young Award-winner Roger Clemens is on trial today – again – for allegedly lying to Congress, and that means the spotlight will again find Brian McNamee, the pitcher's former personal trainer. McNamee has said he injected Clemens on numerous occasions with steroidsand human growth hormone.
But the man I'll be thinking about is Andy Pettitte, Clemens' longtime friend and teammate.
Here's the thing about steroid cases – they have the potential to rip up friendships and clubhouses.
I covered the 2008 congressional hearing in which Clemens is said to have lied. Clemens, wearing a dark pinstriped suit, often seemed indignant about having to defend himself against steroid allegations. I remember how he was seated at one end of an oval witness table and didn't look up when McNamee – his principal accuser – was escorted to his seat at the other end.
The lawmakers had to decide who was lying, Clemens or McNamee. That's where Pettitte seemed to play a pivotal role.
Pettitte, Clemens' longtime New York Yankees teammate, had provided important evidence appearing to corroborate McNamee's account of Clemens using human growth hormone.
Pettitte did not attend the hearing. But he told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in an affidavit that he had a conversation in 1999 or 2000 in which Clemens "told me he had taken human growth hormone. He did not tell me where he got the hGH or from whom, but he did tell me that it helped the body recover."
I think Pettitte's statements persuaded some committee members that McNamee was telling the truth. The members knew Pettitte and Clemens had been close, and they simply couldn't see where Pettitte would have motivation for lying.
Plus, Pettitte has an understated way of talking that made him seem genuine to committee members.
Pettitte had once told the committee: "I have to tell you all the truth. And one day I have to give an account to God and not to nobody else of what I've done in my life."
Rather that criticize his longtime friend, Clemens told the committee that Pettitte must have misunderstood what he had heard.
"Andy Pettitte is my friend," Clemens told the committee. "He was my friend before this, he will be my friend after this."
McNamee was also Pettitte's personal fitness coach and has said he injected Pettitte with human growth hormone as well. Pettitte has apologized for using the substance.
Pettitte is pitching for the Yankees in the minors and is expected back with the big club before long. He may be called as a witness during the current trial inWashington, D.C.
I suspect he'd be a credible witness.