WASHINGTON - Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee will face off at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform tomorrow without any testimony from two other ballplayers or a steroids distributor who had also been scheduled to testify, the committee announced last night.
Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner, says he never used performance-enhancing drugs. McNamee, the former trainer, says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. They will be joined by Charlie Scheeler, a Baltimore lawyer, who led the staff work on the investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball compiled by former senator George J. Mitchell.
Dropped from the witness list were Andy Pettitte, Clemens's longtime friend, former teammate, and training partner; Chuck Knoblauch, a former Yankees infielder; and Kirk Radomski, a former clubhouse attendant and drug distributor who became an informant for federal investigators and the Mitchell Report.
Pettitte's removal from the list came amid growing indications that he had given evidence against Clemens in his deposition to the committee Feb. 4. A congressional staff member and several other people familiar with the case said that Pettitte did not want to have to testify publicly, on national television, against Clemens and, in essence, repeat what he had already said about him in the deposition. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.
One person who is a friend of Clemens's and who also knows Pettitte said the two pitchers have not spoken since 48 hours after the release of the Mitchell Report Dec. 13. Meanwhile, that person said, Pettitte has spoken with McNamee from time to time since then.
In the Mitchell Report, McNamee asserts that he injected Clemens with steroids and HGH on 16 occasions between 1998 and 2001, an assertion Clemens adamantly disputes. Pettitte has confirmed McNamee's statement in the Mitchell Report that he injected Pettitte with HGH in 2002.
Lanny A. Breuer, a Washington lawyer for Clemens, said in a phone interview last night that Clemens will not seek a way out of tomorrow's hearing. "Whether Roger is asked questions about Andy Pettitte's deposition or anything else whatsoever, he will answer the questions. He's going to continue to answer them forthrightly. He never took steroids, he never took HGH, and that is abundantly clear and will be abundantly clear throughout the hearing."
Breuer added: "It's my view that Andy Pettitte should do whatever makes sense for Andy Pettitte and whatever makes him most comfortable." Pettitte's lawyers declined comment.
Breuer said Clemens plans to meet with about a half dozen more members of the oversight committee privately this afternoon. Last week, he met with 19 of the 41 committee members, and, in some instances, signed autographs for committee staff members.
Clemens's denials of drug use include statements he made in a sworn deposition to committee lawyers last week. His lawyers say Clemens will testify tomorrow that he never talked with Pettitte about drug use and that he never used steroids or growth hormone.
After Pettitte gave a 2 1/2-hour deposition to committee lawyers Feb. 4, he emerged looking shaken, and since then many people involved in the case say they think he gave testimony that could hurt Clemens. However, unnamed sources told ESPN that Pettitte often contradicted himself and was not a good witness during his deposition. Because Pettitte's deposition is available to all of the 41 committee members, information he provided can still be used by them to question Clemens during tomorrow's hearing and to evaluate his answers. It appears that Pettitte does not want to be present if, and when, that occurs.
Rusty Hardin, a Houston lawyer for Clemens, reacted angrily to the first report of Pettitte seeking to be excused from public testimony and the notion that he was doing so because of what he said in the deposition about Clemens. He said such a notion was "a tremendous disservice to both Andy and Roger."
"Look, we've always welcomed Andy's comments publicly as well as Roger's comments publicly," Hardin said in a phone interview last night. Hardin said Clemens still considers Pettitte a good friend.
Hardin also had some strong words for the committee chairman, Democrat Henry A. Waxman of California, who is leading the investigation. Hardin and Waxman exchanged letters over the weekend after Hardin criticized a federal agent's plan to attend the hearing and Waxman said it sounded like he was trying to intimidate a federal officer.
"You have a chairman who is going down the tubes because his own committee doesn't support what he is doing," Hardin said in the phone interview.
He added, "You guys are being used by people that want to get Roger Clemens, and you should be looking deep within yourselves."
The statement excusing Pettitte, Knoblauch, and Radomski was issued last night by Waxman and the panel's ranking Republican, Tom Davis of Virginia. It said: "Kirk Radomski, Andy Pettitte, and Chuck Knoblauch will not be testifying at the Feb. 13 hearing. Charlie Scheeler of Senator Mitchell's staff will be testifying. Mr. Knoblauch and Mr. Pettitte answered all the committee's questions and their testimony at the hearing is not needed. Mr. Clemens and Mr. McNamee have also cooperated with the committee in its investigation."
Radomski did not want to give a scheduled deposition today or testify tomorrow because of concerns he would incriminate himself, according to two other people familiar with the proceedings.
Pettitte, 35, who often seemed to consider Clemens to be like a surrogate big brother, signed a one-year, $16 million contract with the Yankees Dec. 12, one day before the release of the Mitchell Report.