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Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Roger Clemens eager to defend himself

ESPN.com news services

HUMBLE, Texas -- Roger Clemens said Wednesday that he's eager to defend himself in federal court this summer and that his Hall of Fame chances aren't a "big deal" for him.

"We've had to take it on the chin a little bit, but we'll have our chance to talk," Clemens said in an appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" at the Houston Open.

Clemens is serving as a caddie for PGA Tour player Ryan Palmer in the pro-am event Wednesday morning leading up to this weekend's tour stop. Clemens was caddying to raise money for Clemens' foundation and Caddy for Cure, a PGA Tour charity. Peter Johns, a Navy officer wounded in 2006, also walked with the group.

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner faces trial in July on allegations that he lied to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in February 2008. Prosecutors say Clemens was not telling the truth when he testified that he did not use steroids or human growth hormone during his 23-season career.

"Everybody has had their little 15 minutes whether they've been on target or not. We'll finally get our say," Clemens said. "We're sitting in the background, we'll take our lumps. Some of it is so far off base. But we're OK right now."

Clemens has kept busy and said he's not about to go into hiding after the indictment, or the things that have been said about him.

"We don't like it. But I'm not going to run around and hang my head. I'm going to be the person I've always been," he said.

Two weeks ago, the committee and the law firm that investigated performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball filed motions in court to stall subpoenas filed by Clemens' legal team to obtain evidence collected against him, a move that could delay the trial.

Clemens was among several players named in the Mitchell report, a probe into steroid use in baseball conducted by former Sen. George Mitchell and the DLA Piper law firm. It was released in December 2007, and Clemens was defiant before the committee two months later, seated near his main accuser -- his former trainer, Brian McNamee.

A federal grand jury convened in January 2009 to hear evidence of Clemens' alleged perjury, and he was indicted last August. Clemens said the lengthy legal ordeal has been hard not only on his family, but also on friends and others who've been drawn into the federal investigation.

"The thing that's most upsetting is the people who were hurt on the fringe," he said later Wednesday morning in a media interview. "I told them to go out there and investigate whoever they've got to investigate, and they've ruined some people's businesses. They've hurt a lot of people.

"Once it's all said and done, I think there needs to be some people who are responsible for that."

In the ESPN Radio interview, when asked if he would have continued pitching if he were not named in the Mitchell report, Clemens said: "I don't know about that. I just know that the three times I unretired and I came back, if the right people did not call ... I probably wouldn't have done it."

Another player named in the Mitchell report is Clemens' former teammate Andy Pettitte, who is expected to testify against Clemens. Pettitte has admitted he used human growth hormone and claimed Clemens admitted privately he did, too.

Clemens said he no longer has a relationship with Pettitte.

"Andy had a fantastic career," Clemens said when asked about Pettitte's retirement announcement last month. "He's kept himself in fantastic shape. If he wanted to continue pitching, I'm sure he could."

Clemens says he's not following Barry Bonds' federal perjury trial in San Francisco.

He said, however, that baseball is "without a doubt" headed in the right direction in its battle against the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

As for the Hall of Fame, Clemens said that it's out of his control, but that he has been a "great ambassador for Major League Baseball."

"It's not the first thing that's on my plate right now. It's not something I'm looking at where it's going to be a big deal," he said. "I love the Hall of Fame, I love everything about it. They've got some memorabilia of mine there now. I'm still going to go and visit it."

Before the steroids allegations arose, Clemens was certain for Hall of Fame induction. He won 354 games and finished with 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875).

Later Wednesday, Clemens planned to take a group of PGA Tour players to Minute Maid Park, where the Houston Astros were playing an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.