Andy Pettitte, a former teammate and close friend of ex-New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, told a federal court jury that Clemens said he used human growth hormone to help recover from injuries.
Pettitte, 39, the former All-Star pitcher who signed a minor-league contract this year after a one-season retirement, was the government’s second witness today in the trial, which began April 23 in Washington. He testified about two instances where he talked with Clemens about human growth hormone, or HGH.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham asked Pettitte about a discussion that occurred at Clemens’s Houston home during a workout session in the 1999 or 2000 offseason while both were pitching for the Yankees.
“Roger mentioned to me that he had taken HGH and that it could help with recovery,” Pettitte said. “That’s really all I remember of the conversation.”
Pettitte, wearing a gray suit and striped tie, rarely looked in the direction of Clemens throughout his three hours of testimony today, except to point him out for the jury at Durham’s prompting. Pettitte, who was being cross-examined when the trial recessed for the day, is scheduled to return to the witness stand tomorrow for more questioning.
Cy Young Award
Four men and eight women on the jury will decide after four to six weeks of evidence whether the seven-time Cy Young Award winner lied to Congress when he said he never used performance- enhancing drugs. Clemens maintains he told the truth.
Clemens, 49, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Clemens faces 15 to 21 months in prison if convicted.
Clemens, who pitched for the Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays during a 24-year career, used the anabolic steroids and HGH to remain competitive as he aged, Durham told jurors during his opening statement.
Pettitte earlier testified about his baseball career, his 2011 retirement, his current attempt to return to the Yankees pitching roster and his relationship with Clemens.
Met in 1996
Pettitte said he and Clemens met in 1996 while Pettitte was playing for the Yankees and Clemens was pitching for the Red Sox.
“To be able to meet him and just see him was awesome,” Pettitte told the jury. He said Clemens later became his mentor after Clemens joined the Yankees in 1999.
The two worked out together at Clemens’s home with Brian McNamee, Clemens’s personal trainer who joined the Yankees staff in 2000. Prosecutors showed the jury pictures from these workouts and of Pettitte and Clemens as teammates on both the Yankees and Astros.
Durham asked Pettitte whether he asked Clemens any follow- up questions about HGH during that workout session. Pettitte said he didn’t and he wasn’t sure why. Pettitte said he did inquire about HGH from McNamee probably the same day because “I wanted to know about it.”
Pettitte told the jury that he first used HGH in 2002 in an attempt to cure an elbow injury. He used the drug again in 2004 “out of desperation” after tearing a tendon in his elbow while pitching for the Astros -- an injury that required surgery. He said he regretted using the drug.
“I wouldn’t want kids to think it’s something I’d recommend for them to do, and if I wouldn’t have done it I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
Pettitte testified that he had another conversation with Clemens about HGH in March 2005. He said it occurred in the kitchen of the team’s spring training facility in Kissimmee, Florida, and coincided with the first series of congressional hearings on drug use by Major League Baseball players.
Pettitte said he was concerned about what he would say if reporters asked him whether he’d used performance enhancing drugs, so he sought out Clemens for guidance.
‘My Wife, Debbie’
“I had asked him what he’d say if anyone asked him whether he used performance-enhancing drugs,” Pettitte said. “He said ’What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘I told you my wife, Debbie, used it.’ ”
Durham asked Pettitte how he reacted.
“I was a little flustered because I had thought he told me he did,” he said. “I thought there was no use asking him about it now and walked out.”
Prosecutors also sought to bolster the credibility of McNamee, whom Pettitte said he trusted and considered a friend.
Under cross examination, Michael Attanasio, a lawyer for Clemens, asked Pettitte whether the 1999 or 2000 talk with Clemens about HGH was a “sit-down” conversation or a passing mention while the two were doing other things.
Pettitte said the conversation occurred while they were working out.
“Did Mr. Clemens ever suggest that you should personally use HGH or steroids?” Attanasio asked.
“No,” Pettitte said.
Clemens’s first trial ended in a mistrial in July after U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton found that prosecutors improperly showed the jury a video clip of a 2008 congressional hearing in which the wife of Pettitte was discussed. Walton had ruled earlier that no references to Laura Pettitte, or an affidavit she gave Congress, could be made during the government’s case.
Pettitte’s importance as a witness was a factor in Walton’s decision to order the mistrial.
“I think Mr. Pettitte’s testimony is going to be critical as to whether this man goes to prison,” Walton said about 45 minutes before declaring a mistrial on July 14.
Clemens has denied drug use since former U.S. Senator George Mitchell released his investigation of steroids in Major League Baseball on Dec. 13, 2007, that named Clemens and 85 other players. In 2008 testimony to Congress, Clemens repeatedly maintained his denial of having ever used banned substances.
Clemens’s denials were contradicted by McNamee, who said he injected the athlete with steroids and HGH. Pettitte, meanwhile, told the committee that Clemens admitted to him that he used HGH, considered a performance-enhancing drug for its ability to grow muscle and aid recovery after training.
Clemens testified to Congress that McNamee injected him only with vitamin B-12 and the painkiller Lidocaine. Pettitte “misremembers” the conversation they had about HGH, Clemens said.
The case is U.S. v. Clemens, 10-cr-00223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in federal court in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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