Two days after Andy Pettitte was implicated in the Mitchell Report for using human growth hormone, the Yankees lefthander admitted in a statement that he indeed had tried the substance.
Pettitte was among 88 players named Thursday in former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell's investigation into steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.
"If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize," Pettitte said.
According to the report, Brian McNamee, Pet titte's former trainer, told Mitchell that he injected Pettitte with human growth hormone on "two to four occasions" in 2002 while Pettitte was recovering from an elbow injury.
Pettitte, in a statement released by agent Randy Hendricks, said he tried HGH for "two days" because he believed it would speed his recovery.
"I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible," Pettitte said. "For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped."
HGH was not banned by Major League Baseball until before the 2005 season, and a reliable test for HGH is still not available. Because the admitted use came before 2005, Pettitte is not likely to be subject to discipline by the commissioner's office.
Earl Ward, McNamee's lawyer, said that Pettitte's admission gave credibility to the Mitchell Report.
"Brian had always said that Andy was an honest and decent guy, and it doesn't surprise us that he stepped up and made these admissions," Ward said in a telephone interview.
The Yankees and Pettitte agreed to a one-year, $16 million contract Wednesday.
Along with the details he provided about Pettitte's use, McNamee told Mitchell's investigators that he injected Roger Clemens, a close friend of Pettitte's, with steroids and HGH during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Clemens's lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has since denied McNamee's allegations.
Drayton McLane, owner of the Houston Astros, said that he still planned to offer Clemens a personal-services contract with the team if the righthander decides to retire - as long as there is no hard evidence that Clemens took steroids. "This is only accusations that somebody made," McLane told the Associated Press. "That doesn't mean he's guilty."
In his statement, Pettitte tried to emphasize that his use of HGH was limited. "This is it - two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list," Pettitte said in the statement released by Hendricks (who also represents Clemens).
And although he admitted using human growth hormone, Pettitte was adamant that he never used steroids.
"Everything else written or said about me knowingly using illegal drugs is nonsense, wrong, and hurtful," he said. "I have the utmost respect for baseball and have always tried to live my life in a way that would be honorable. I wasn't looking for an edge; I was looking to heal."
Another player named in the report, former Arizona outfielder Alex Cabrera, yesterday denied using steroids.
The report chronicles the discovery of a bottle containing steroids in the Diamondbacks clubhouse in September 2000.
A clubhouse employee found the bottle and several hundred pills, later determined to be diet pills, in a package that had been mailed to Cabrera, according to the report.
"I couldn't have used the substances that are identified," Cabrera said. "I never had possession of the alleged box that supposedly contained the pharmaceutical drugs."
The Baltimore Orioles, one of the clubs hit hardest (19 current or former players) by the Mitchell Report, issued a statement last night calling for tougher drug testing but asking the public to temper its judgment.
"The Orioles caution observers to resist the temptation to accept collective judgments based on unsubstantiated allegations," the statement read.