Torre says he saw nothing suspicious with Clemens, Pettitte

Updated: January 17, 2008, 11:49 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Joe Torre had no suspicions about Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte using performance-enhancing drugs when they were playing for him with the New York Yankees.

"I didn't see anything that made me suspicious," Torre said Thursday. "But I don't investigate players. I get to know them. If they want to talk, then you're available for them and stuff like that."

Clemens and Pettitte were among the players implicated in last month's Mitchell report on doping in baseball. Their former trainer, Brian McNamee, told investigator George Mitchell that he injected Clemens at least 16 times with steroids and human growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Clemens has denied the accusation, and he filed a defamation lawsuit against McNamee.

Pettitte acknowledged McNamee injected him twice with HGH as the pitcher was trying to recover from a sore elbow in 2002.

All three have been asked to testify at a Feb. 13 hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Before the hearing, the committee plans to take depositions from them along with two other witnesses: former Yankee Chuck Knoblauch and ex-Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, who has admitted supplying players with performance-enhancing drugs.

Clemens vehemently denied McNamee's allegations this month in a news conference and an interview on CBS's "60 Minutes."

"As far as what Roger's doing, I can't address it because I don't know -- good, bad or indifferent. I don't know what the right thing is. But that's the way he feels, and I respect him for feeling that way," said Torre, preparing for his first season as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. "Roger is a very proud individual, and I know he's very forthright. He's always been that way with me."

During his news conference in Houston, a defiant Clemens said he wasn't concerned about the steroid allegations jeopardizing his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Torre said he has no reason to doubt him.

"I do believe it when he said, `It's your choice. Do what you want with it.' Of course, he got a little more colorful than I did, but I do believe that -- because that's not why you start playing this game," Torre said. "You start out playing this game because you love it and you're trying to help teams win. You do things you can control, like playing the game and putting on the uniform. As far as when and if you've accomplished enough to get to the Hall of Fame, that's in somebody else's hands."

One of Mitchell's recommendations was that baseball needs more independence in its drug testing, but Torre has faith in commissioner Bud Selig and players union chief Donald Fehr.

"I think the commissioner and Don Fehr understand what has to be done. And I'd really like to see them solve it," said Torre, at Dodger Stadium to watch several of his new players and prospects work out. "I think they can do it on their own. I don't think they need help from anywhere else. I think baseball understands how dangerous this time is. The most important thing is earning the trust of the fans again."

That won't be easy, with talk of steroid abuse dominating the headlines all winter and no baseball games to serve as a distraction.

"I would rather say, `Yeah, there were some mistakes made. Let's move on and let's find a way to keep this from happening again.' But that's pie-in-the-sky stuff. It looks like it's going to get more involved," Torre said.

"I'm saddened by the fact that names are being brought out now. Are all the names brought out? It's doubtful, and I think that's concerning. Let's just find a way to solve it instead of pointing fingers and finding a way to punish people. I don't think we're gaining anything, other than finding out more information that you think is going to help you."

As far as the big picture is concerned and the cloud that hangs over baseball at the moment, Torre can't pinpoint one thing that will turn things around.

"That's something baseball's going to have to work on -- and make sure that when the ball is hit, somebody's not going to say, `Well, I wonder what he's on.' I mean, that stuff is something we need to get away from," Torre said. "And this phase that we've gone through is something we just have to endure at this point in time."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press