McLane says previous reports about Clemens' contract, future 'overstated'
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane will honor Roger Clemens' 10-year personal services contract despite an FBI decision to investigate whether the star pitcher lied under oath about his denials of steroid use.
McLane said Friday that reports he was reconsidering Clemens' contract because of his legal issues were "overstated."
"All the legal troubles, does that jeopardize this?" McLane said. "My answer was, 'I don't know where that's going. We'll just have to wait and evaluate what happens.' But I don't see anything that's occurred right now that would jeopardize his contract. That's what was overstated."
Clemens' contract kicks in after he officially retires. He's been throwing batting practice to minor leaguers at spring training since Wednesday, but McLane said Clemens is doing it voluntarily and is not getting paid.
Clemens was a no-show Friday. The Astros said earlier in the week that Clemens planned to work with minor-leaguers Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Koby Clemens, a minor-league catcher in the Astros' system, said his father flew home to Houston on Friday to attend a baseball tournament in which his younger brothers were playing. Koby said his father would return to Florida, but he did not know when.
On Thursday, the FBI took over the Clemens case after Congress asked the Justice Department to look into Clemens' testimony at a Feb. 5 deposition and a Feb. 13 hearing. Clemens could face perjury charges. McLane said he was not familiar enough with the wording in the contract to know how an indictment might affect Clemens' agreement.
"I'm just dealing in the present of where we are today," McLane said. "I don't know where this will lead. I don't know how this fits into the contract. There is no doubt, we will honor the contract. We're not looking for any reason to back out of the contract. I think Roger, long-term, can be an asset to the Houston Astros."
But McLane said he'd meet Friday with general manager Ed Wade and president of baseball operations Tal Smith to evaluate whether they want Clemens to continue to help with their minor leaguers. Reporters and photographers have followed Clemens' every move since he started working out with players Wednesday.
McLane said before the Astros' exhibition home opener against Cleveland that he had not spoken with Clemens on Friday and did not know why he decided not to attend the minor-league workout. McLane said he, Wade and Smith had been too busy Friday morning to have the meeting. McLane said he and Wade will probably meet Saturday to discuss Clemens.
McLane expressed concern that Clemens' presence was proving a distraction.
"Not necessarily a bad thing. It creates a lot of attention," McLane said. "There are good points and bad points. Roger, in the 16 years I've been involved with the Houston Astros, he's the most charismatic person I've ever seen. Just his presence changes everything."
Despite the media attention, Koby Clemens said he and his teammates enjoyed having his father at practice.
"He brings so much to the table," Koby said. "Everybody loves it and he's so much fun when he gets out there. Everybody kind of has a little bit of fun and jokes around. It was good to have him out here."
McLane said he last met with Clemens and his agents, Alan and Randy Hendricks, in December, after the release of the Mitchell report.
"Roger is a good person," McLane said. "I met with him back in December and he said, 'I clearly don't want to be a distraction.' He genuinely means that."
Koby Clemens said his father hasn't seemed preoccupied with his legal issues.
"Besides some of the new stuff that they've talked about, it's pretty much died down," he said. "We're thinking spring training baseball and trying to get positive for that."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press