Sunday, July 1, 2012
Joe Torre endorses Roger Clemens
By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre thinks Roger Clemens should be a Hall of Famer, but added that there will always be a question mark when it comes to the flame-throwing right-hander's legacy.
"I'm a little prejudiced on Clemens," Torre said before Sunday's Old Timer's Day game at Yankee Stadium. "He was like a son to me. Unfortunately, the question mark is always gonna be there with him. It's something that's sad for me ... because I disliked him like everyone else until I got a chance to know him. He was a great teammate for these guys and he was very devoted to the team he was playing on, and I always respected that."
Two weeks ago, Clemens was found not guilty on six counts of charges that he lied to Congress in 2008 about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
"I'm just happy he has a chance to exhale now," Torre said.
An 11-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion (both with the Yankees), Clemens ended up winning 354 games and pitching to a 3.12 ERA. But his candidacy for the Hall of Fame is tenuous in light of voting patterns surrounding players with links to the so-called steroid era.
"He is to me," Torre responded when asked if he thinks Clemens should be in the Hall. "I can't make other people look at him, I can just tell you the way I feel about him. I was proud to have him play for me and I respect him."
Following the trial, the Houston Astros reached out to Clemens about possibly joining their organization in some capacity.
Torre didn't know, given his current position with Major League Baseball as executive vice president of baseball operations, if he would be allowed to comment on that.
"I just know that from a personal standpoint, Roger will always be special to me," Torre said.
Current Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked about the possibility of the Yankees and Clemens reconnecting.
"That's something that our organization deals with and determines when the right time is," Girardi replied.
"I think that as time goes on they'll make a decision on what the best thing is to do, but we've had a lot of players come back from difficult times and they've been welcomed back.
"I can't tell you exactly what's gonna happen, but Roger was a great Yankee."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.