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Clemens a no-show at Astros camp; son passionately defends him

HOUSTON -- With Roger Clemens a no-show at Houston Astros
training camp Monday, Koby Clemens spoke out in defense of his dad.

Roger Clemens was accused by his former trainer in last month's
Mitchell report of using steroids and human growth hormone in 1998,
2000 and 2001, allegations the seven-time Cy Young Award winner
vehemently denies.

"It kills me that this is happening to my dad," Koby Clemens,
an Astros' prospect, said after Monday's workout. "What he's done
for the game and what now is being turned back to him for what he's
done for the game is tough. It's hard on me, but you can't imagine
how hard it is on my dad."

Koby Clemens, the pitcher's oldest son, said the ordeal has made
his family stronger and brought its members closer together.

Clemens is set to testify Feb. 13 before a House committee along
with former teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, and Brian
McNamee, the former personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte.
Clemens sued McNamee for defamation.

Clemens' agent released an 18,000-word, 49-page statistical
report to refute allegations that his career improved about the
time he was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.

The pitcher has a personal-services contract with the Astros set
to begin when he retires, and he helped last year at the training
camp, which features Nolan Ryan and Jeff Bagwell.

"I don't think he's going to be able to make it out for this
camp because he's getting all his stuff sorted out," Koby Clemens
said. "Everybody loves him here. He's a great guy to talk to. How
bad it's gotten, it just kind of stinks that he can't be here."

Astros general manager Ed Wade said he hasn't spoken to Clemens.

"He's still welcome to be here," Wade said. "We'll wait and
see what happens down the road. I want the kids to learn as much as
they can, so anybody who's got an involvement in the organization
and a willingness to help teach is welcome."

Ryan, who declined to talk about performance-enhancing drugs at
a fundraiser last week in California, spoke at length about the
issue Monday.

"I think baseball ignored it for a long time," he said.
"Anytime you have a problem that you ignore, when you do finally
address it ... then the bigger the problem is. I think that's what
we're seeing. We have to get that behind us and move on."

The Hall of Fame pitcher said he hasn't spoken to Clemens since
the report was released, but that his wife has exchanged supportive
e-mails with Clemens' wife.

"Roger being the name that he is and the recognition that he
has throughout our country, when his name showed up I think it's
just natural that it was brought to the forefront like it has
been," Ryan said. "I feel really bad for him, for what has gone
on this winter. I'm sure it's been a really tough winter for him
and his family."

Koby said it has been difficult for his family to deal with the
"nasty things that people have to say" in the media about his
father, but people they encounter around the city have been
overwhelmingly supportive.

"Me and my dad have been running around Memorial Park and
everybody's been great saying, 'Good luck in Congress,' and nothing
but great e-mails," Koby said. "There's some people that are
going to have their opinion, but that's just how it is. There's
been a lot more good than bad."

The statistical report, created by Randy Hendricks and two
associates at his firm, includes 38 charts and in some ways
resembles a salary arbitration case.

"Clemens' longevity was due to his ability to adjust his style
of pitching as he got older, incorporating his very effective
split-finger fastball to offset the decrease in the speed of his
regular fastball caused by aging," the report said.

One of the charts shows Clemens' ERA was lower than the league
average in all but two of his 23 major league seasons. The report
also compares variations in Clemens' career with those of Randy
Johnson, Curt Schilling and Ryan, and maintains slumps often can be
correlated with injuries.

"Of the six years that feature Clemens' best ERA margins, two
occurred in Boston, after he had been in the major leagues for
several years; two occurred in his two years in Toronto; and two
occurred after he switched leagues and pitched for the Houston
Astros," the report said.