Pettitte, Radomski, Knoblauch dropped from Clemens' hearing

Updated: February 12, 2008, 10:18 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, former Mets trainer Kirk Radomski, and former Yankee and Twins player Chuck Knoblauch will not testify before a congressional committee Wednesday in Washington D.C.

The only people now scheduled to testify on Wednesday are pitcher Roger Clemens, former Clemens trainer Brian McNamee and Charlie Scheeler of former Senate majority leader George Mitchell's staff.

"Mr. Knoblauch and Mr. Pettitte answered all the Committee's questions and their testimony at the hearing is not needed," committee chairman Henry Waxman and ranking Republican Tom Davis said in a statement. "Mr. Clemens and Mr. McNamee have also cooperated with the Committee in its investigation."

Pettitte's request to be excused was first reported by The New York Times on its Web site.

Wednesday's session, which will focus on allegations made in the Mitchell report by McNamee that he injected Clemens more than a dozen times with performance enhancers, had been expected to include five witnesses testifying -- Clemens, Pettitte, Knoblauch, McNamee and Radomski.

Now all attention will be focused on Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, and McNamee, his former personal trainer, who alleged he injected the pitcher with performance-enhancing drugs.

"I guess it's showtime, isn't it?" Clemens' lead lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told The Associated Press.

In an interview with the New York Times, Hardin criticized Waxman.

"You have a chairman who is going down the tubes because his own committee doesn't support what he is doing," Hardin told the Times in a telephone interview.

On Sunday, Waxman sent a letter to Hardin, saying that some comments by Hardin and McNamee's lawyers were "inadvisable." Hardin told the Times on Saturday that it would be "brazen" and "unbelievable" if IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky, a key prosecutor in the BALCO drug cases, attends the hearing.

"If he ever messes with Roger, Roger will eat his lunch," Hardin was quoted as saying.

"I do not know your intent in making this statement, but under one interpretation it can be seen an attempt to intimidate a federal law enforcement official in the performance of his official duties," Waxman wrote. "It is not your client's prerogative to dictate who attends or does not attend the hearing. ... I trust you did not intend your comments to be a signal that there could be adverse repercussions to a federal law enforcement official for attending the hearing or taking other official actions."

Earl Ward, McNamee's lead lawyer, declined to comment on the changes to Wednesday's hearings testimony lineup.

Sources told ESPN's T.J. Quinn that Pettitte was not a good witness when he appeared before congressional lawyers during a sworn deposition on Monday. Pettitte often contradicted himself, the sources said, so the committee agreed to his request not to appear before the committee, although portions of Pettitte's deposition may be read aloud at the hearing.

Lawyers familiar with the hearings would not say if Pettitte implicated Clemens as a steroids user in his testimony. However, they said that Pettitte's testimony didn't fully jibe with Clemens' versions of events.

Rep. Davis of Virginia said in an interview with Newsday that Pettitte's account matches McNamee's in most details.

McNamee has accused Pettitte of using human growth hormone -- something Pettitte acknowledged he did do for two days in 2002 to deal with an elbow injury. Before Pettitte spoke to committee lawyers under oath last week, Ward said he thought Pettitte would tell the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform he discussed HGH with Clemens between the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

Hardin told Quinn that it was "completely understandable" that Pettitte wouldn't want to appear before a hearing. "Who would?" he said.

Asked whether Pettitte's desire to skip the hearing was a sign that his testimony was incriminating to Clemens, Hardin said, "it would be a huge mistake to assume that."

Hardin said Clemens "has always welcomed Andy's participation" and that he plans "to testify fully and truthfully as he always has."

Radomski told ESPN.com's Mike Fish on Monday that he doesn't anticipate having to appear before committee lawyers Tuesday morning for his scheduled deposition.

"I haven't heard from them,'' Radomski said of committee staff members. "Unless something changes I have no reason to go.''

Pettitte's attorney, Jay Reisinger, declined to comment after the announcement.

Asked about the change, Knoblauch's attorney, Diana Marshall, said: "I'm not disappointed. I know Chuck is not disappointed."

The new witness is Scheeler, a partner with Mitchell's law firm, DLA Piper. According to the firm's Web site, Scheeler mainly works in commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense.

Clemens' camp disputes several elements of the Mitchell report's sections about him. Clemens said he repeated under oath during his closed-door deposition what he previously had said in various settings publicly: "I've never used steroids or growth hormone."

If the committee believes Clemens or McNamee made false statements under oath, it could ask the Justice Department to open an investigation. This is the same House panel that -- after the Mitchell report came out -- asked Justice to look into whether 2002 AL MVP Miguel Tejada lied when he told committee investigators in 2005 that he never took performance enhancers and had no knowledge of other players using or talking about steroids. The FBI's field office in Washington is handling that inquiry.

McNamee, for his part, arrived for his deposition with color photos of what his side says is evidence -- and what Clemens' lawyers have called "manufactured" -- that was turned over to the Justice Department last month. McNamee's lawyers say the items include used needles saved for several years and that, when tested, they will prove Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs.

While McNamee has been quiet, not speaking a word to reporters after his deposition, Clemens has been crisscrossing Capitol Hill, speaking with nearly half of the members of the committee on a two-day tour last week. The 45-year-old pitcher planned to meet with more lawmakers Tuesday, a day before he testifies under oath at the hearing.

Pettitte was supposed to be there, too. Now the left-hander is free to get ready to head to spring training. Yankees pitchers and catchers are to report Thursday.

"Every witness should make the decision that's best for them," Hardin said. "Roger plans to be there and to answer every question fully and truthfully. Whatever anybody else did, that's their deal."

Information from ESPN reporter T.J. Quinn, ESPN.com's Mike Fish and The Associated Press was used in this report.