Friday, December 21, 2007
Updated: December 22, 9:41 AM ET
Jeter, Joba back Clemens; lawyer bashes media reports
ESPN.com news services
Two of Roger Clemens' teammates on the New York Yankees defended the embattled pitcher on Thursday, the same day his lawyer unleashed another attack on media reports linking the seven-time Cy Young Award winner with the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Yankees captain Derek Jeter, speaking with reporters on Thursday before a holiday event for his charitable foundation, said the public should not rush to judgment on Clemens, who was named in the Mitchell report by his former strength trainer as having taken steroids and human growth hormone starting in the late 1990s.
"Seems like now people are rushing to judgment and I think you have to let it play out a little bit before you make your decision on whether he's guilty or not," Jeter said.
Asked if he stands by Clemens, Jeter said "Yeah. Rocket's always been a great teammate. I've said that time in and time out, that he's a great teammate. I didn't like him too much when I played against him because he has always been very competitive. But he's always been a great teammate."
Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain, who had the locker next to Clemens last season in the Yankees clubhouse, also defended Clemens on Thursday.
"It's a question that's going to be brought up for a long time, but the man has been successful for so long, he's obviously doing something right," Chamberlain said during a visit to children undergoing treatment at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. "His work ethic has been shown, he does what he does, and he does it for a reason. He's been successful and that's why."
Meanwhile, Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, blasted the media Thursday when it was revealed that a 2006 Los Angeles Times report linking Clemens to an affidavit listing several players alleged to have used performance-enhancing drugs was inaccurate. Clemens' name did not appear in the document, as was previously reported.
"When this grossly inaccurate story broke in October 2006, Roger said it was untrue and the Los Angeles Times chose not to believe him. As the record now clearly proves, Roger was telling the truth then, just as he continues to tell the truth today," Hardin said.
"Roger Clemens did not take steroids, and anybody who says he did had better start looking for a hell of a good lawyer."
Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy said he believes Clemens' denials.
"I haven't spoken with Roger, but have heard the comment on him saying he never took steroids, so that is what I believe," Peavy e-mailed to the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I understand the questions surrounding him because of this report, but who's to say the report is totally accurate? So, on this end, I'm certainly not going to rush to any judgment until I hear more and stand by a friend who denies it!"
Chamberlain said Clemens was a big influence on him in the clubhouse -- and that he'll be missed if he does not return next season.
"The work ethic the guys see makes them push themselves, but he's also a big kid when it comes down to it," Chamberlain said. "He's a funny guy, he keeps it light and knows how to switch gears between being serious and knowing when to go to work."
Former Yankees reliever Goose Gossage, though, was highly critical of Clemens, saying the Cy Young awards Clemens won in 1997, '98 and 2001 should be taken away.
"If Roger cheated, what do the numbers mean? They mean nothing," Gossage told the Bergen Record on Thursday. "Roger has always been a production, everything he's done has been a production. He's always wanted the attention. He's probably getting a lot more attention now than he ever wanted.
"With Clemens, you just shake your head and wonder how it all happened, how it came to this. I mean, why didn't the Red Sox re-sign him [after the 1996 season]? All of a sudden his numbers started getting crazy when he was supposed to be getting older.
"There's no way [those post-1996 Cy Young awards] can stand."
Jeter also said he has recently spoken with Andy Pettitte, who has acknowledged using HGH to recover from elbow injuries. Pettitte is a close friend of Clemens and used the same strength trainer, Brian McNamee.
"Me and Andy have had a great relationship throughout the years, whether he's here in New York or he's in Houston," Jeter said. "I've talked to Andy, Andy knows how I feel about him, he knows how we feel about him as an organization. It took a lot of courage for him to come out and be honest about it and hopefully he can move on."
After the affidavit was unsealed Thursday and the actual names were revealed, the Times apologized.
"We regret our report was inaccurate and will run a correction," Times spokesman Stephan Pechdimaldji said Thursday.
The correction, published Friday, said that the Times incorrectly reported that "an investigator alleged that pitcher Jason Grimsley named former teammates Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons as players linked to performance-enhancing drugs. In the affidavit, which was unsealed Thursday, Grimsley did not name those players."
The Times also said the report inaccurately reported that Grimsley had alleged Tejada had used steroids. "The only mention of Tejada in the affidavit was as part of a conversation with teammates about baseball's ban of amphetamines," the correction said.