Clemens arrives, speaks with reporters
Hurler discusses duties at camp; strays from controversy
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Roger Clemens arrived to the Astros Spring Training complex mid-afternoon on Tuesday and although earlier in the day he had sent word to the club that he wasn't talking to reporters, he ultimately decided to speak on the record.
Clemens mostly stayed away from addressing the controversy that has followed him since he was named repeatedly in the Mitchell Report, which was released on Dec. 13. He wished to instead focus on his duties at the Minor League mini-camp, which began on Monday and includes his oldest son, Koby.
"All the other stuff that's been going on in the last month, we're moving forward," Clemens said. "Eveything's been said about it and quite frankly, I think people are getting tired of hearing about it. We're moving on. The sport's been great. We're moving forward."
Clemens will throw batting practice to mini-campers on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. He plans to return to Houston for a brief time -- "I have some business I have to do," he said -- but the Rocket plans to spend significant time in Kissimmee throughout the spring season.
"It's great to be down here again and do a little work," Clemens said. "Anything that they need me to do or ask me to do, I'll try to do. What's great is now, really, in my second or third year of kind of being around them and watching draftees that were in their first year, being in their second or third year now, they're getting comfortable asking questions and more pointed questions, so that's good."
Clemens, 45, signed a personal services contract with the Astros four years ago that is to begin when he officially retires. Clemens has yet to do so, but he has worked out with the Astros' Minor Leaguers during Spring Training for several years.
Soon after pitchers and catchers reported to big league camp two weeks ago, club owner Drayton McLane said he would welcome Clemens to the Astros' facility and indicated that he expected the Rocket to make an appearance at some point this spring.
But supporting Clemens can also carry consequences. The seven-time Cy Young winner has been in the middle of a media firestorm for more than two months, and Clemens' presence at the Osceola County Stadium will surely spark another swarm of reporters trolling the facility.
While 86 players were named in the Mitchell Report, Clemens, considered the best pitcher of his generation, has been the main focus of a controversy that has taken dozens of twists and turns since former Sen. George Mitchell released his findings from a 20-month investigation into the history of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
Most recently, the Congressional committee that investigated whether Clemens took performance-enhancing drugs has drafted a letter to the Dept. of Justice, asking that the top prosecuting arm in the U.S. determine whether Clemens committed perjury.
The story appeared on The New York Times Web site on Monday and quoted three unnamed attorneys as saying that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform had written the letter and was about to refer the matter to Justice.
While Clemens has been the focus of hundreds of media reports and Debbie Clemens' name surfaced as well with the revelation that she used human growth hormone several years ago, the Clemens kids have been, for the most part, left out of the firestorm. Koby Clemens' name did come up, however, in a New York Daily News report that identified Andy Pettitte's father, Tom as having purchased HGH from a trainer at a Pasadena gym near Houston.
The report indicated that Koby worked out at that gym as well. There were no allegations suggesting Koby was involved with illegal drugs. Koby denied having ever worked out at that gym.
Clemens expressed frustration that the media has targeted Koby, referring to both the Daily News article and stories written about the eldest Clemens son when he reported to Spring Training on Monday.
"This really has nothing to do with him," Clemens said. "I really didn't care for it to even see his name mentioned. I thought it was very unfair on the reporting side.
"He's handled it really well. He's moving forward and doing his thing. This will be a big spring of work for him. I'm glad he's taking on this challenge."
Clemens will spend most of his time with the Minor Leaguers, but he'll likely pay several visits to the Major League side as well.
"I want to get over there and watch Woody [Williams] throw and Roy [Oswalt] throw," Clemens said. "I'll be available if anybody wants to visit."
As word about Clemens' trip to Kissimmee traveled around Astros' camp, several of the Rocket's former teammates expressed dismay about the attention he's receiving because of this visit.
"Why is it newsworthy that he's coming to throw batting practice?" Lance Berkman wondered. "Who cares? Write this -- 'Berkman says, 'Who cares? Leave the man alone. Leave the man alone.'"
Catcher Brad Ausmus, who promised Clemens he would work with Koby to help with the position change, echoed Berkman's thoughts.
"Write an aricle about all the good things he's done over his lifetime, even off the field, instead of the last three weeks," Ausmus said.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.