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Rivera signs deal, speaks up

Yankee surprised by teammates' inclusion

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Associated Press / December 18, 2007

Mariano Rivera is backing Andy Pettitte.

After completing his $45 million, three-year contract with the New York Yankees yesterday, Rivera said he was impressed with Pettitte for admitting that he used human growth hormone after his name was included in the Mitchell Report.

"The thing that I admire is that he came out and said he did it," Rivera said on a conference call.

Rivera was surprised to hear Pettitte was included last week in the report with Roger Clemens and several other players on the Yankees teams that won four World Series titles from 1996-2000.

Pettitte later said he used HGH while he was on the disabled list during the 2002 season.

"It was definitely the wrong thing to do," Rivera said.

The Yankees' career saves leader said he spoke with Pettitte after the report was released and understood why the lefthander chose to try HGH.

Pettitte said he was trying to hurry his recovery from an elbow injury and help his team.

"I might have done the same thing. Who knows?" Rivera said.

But the 38-year-old Rivera also said he had "no idea" any of his teammates were using performance-enhancing drugs and that he was too "naive" to know what HGH was.

Rivera insisted that the Yankees' legacy was safe even though 11 players from their championship run were included in the Mitchell Report.

"I don't think that we have to defend anything," Rivera said. "Those years were hard work and a lot of dedication. The whole team was involved [in winning], not just two guys."

Rivera also said Pettitte wouldn't have a problem with the fans when he takes the mound next year.

"I would think that he would be received normal," Rivera said. "Everybody makes mistakes."

Unwelcome visitor?

Roger Clemens might not be welcome as a speaker at a convention of Texas high school baseball coaches, whose association is having second thoughts about inviting Clemens to its annual session next month following allegations in the Mitchell Report that the seven-time Cy Young Award winner used steroids.

Jim Long, president of the association, said his group plans on holding an executive meeting today, during which it hopes to speak with Clemens, to decide if the Texas icon will remain as one of the presenters in Waco. Clemens had been scheduled for the last eight months to talk about pitching and "what he did on a daily basis that kept him in shape," Long said.

Long was adamant that the association was not jumping to conclusions or being pressured to retract its invitation to Clemens. "We're not saying anything negative about Clemens," he said. "He's been a great supporter of our association."

Bennett hooks on

A few days after admitting he used HGH following his inclusion in the Mitchell Report, free agent backup catcher Gary Bennett signed an $875,000, one-year contract with the Dodgers. "As far as the report is concerned to me, it's accurate," Bennett, 35, told The Washington Post last Friday. Bennett played 59 games for St. Louis last season, batting .252 with two home runs and 17 RBIs . . . Former All-Star infielder Fernando Vina admitted using HGH in 2003 as he attempted to heal from injuries, but denied the claim in the Mitchell Report that he purchased steroids from former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. "I never bought steroids from him. All I used was HGH," Vina said in an interview on ESPN, for whom he works as a baseball analyst. Slow to recover from injuries, Vina played only 61 games for the Cardinals in 2003. He said he was under pressure from the team and himself to get back on the field, so he tried HGH. "Obviously, it was wrong," Vina said. "I'm embarrassed by it." . . . Indians pitcher Paul Byrd met with baseball officials in New York to discuss his use of HGH. It's uncertain whether Byrd will face any discipline from the commissioner's office. During the playoffs, Byrd acknowledged taking HGH from 2002-05, but claims he did it for a medical condition and did so only under a doctor's supervision.

Arizona extending Melvin

The Diamondbacks and manager Bob Melvin have agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep him with Arizona through 2010, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations. Terms were not available. Melvin, who was named the NL Manager of the Year last month, had the 2009 option year of his current contract turned into a guaranteed year, and the Diamondbacks added another year on top of that . . . Astros general manager Ed Wade confirmed to the Houston Chronicle that the team made an offer to former Cubs righthander Mark Prior, believed to be a one-year, incentive-laden contract. The Astros also agreed to a $400,000, one-year deal with free agent righthander Jack Cassel, who is the older brother of Patriots backup quarterback Matt Cassel . . . Former Braves catcher Javy Lopez, 37, agreed to a minor league contract with Atlanta . . . The Yankees released their 2008 schedule, and the final regular-season game ever at Yankee Stadium will be Sept. 21 against Baltimore. New York also raised most ticket prices; the most expensive box seats rose from $150 to $250.

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