McLane says he would endorse Clemens' presence at spring training

Updated: February 18, 2008, 2:30 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Roger Clemens' alleged steroid use and the resulting fallout from his inclusion in the Mitchell report haven't dissuaded Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane from embracing his former pitcher.

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McLane said Sunday he would welcome Clemens with open arms at spring training in Kissimmee, Fla., if the Rocket chooses to attend camp or decide he wants to work with minor leaguers in the coming weeks.

"Several times in the last few weeks, I've called him, and talked to him very, very briefly," McLane said, according to MLB.com. "I've just given him my encouragement to move through this. In life, everybody experiences difficulty. I wanted him to settle down ... this was the most traumatic few days of his life.

"He knows that we care about him. He might appear out here in a few days."

Clemens' reputation and Hall of Fame candidacy have been at stake since the mid-December release of the Mitchell report. Last week Clemens and his accuser, former personal trainer Brian McNamee, spoke to Congress under oath and stuck to their versions of the he-said, he-said disagreement over whether McNamee injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

Clemens insisted it never happened. McNamee insisted he did inject Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs.

When Clemens came out of retirement in 2004 to pitch for the Astros, the deal came with a 10-year personal services contract that is supposed to take effect when he retires. Clemens also pitched for Houston in the 2005 and '06 seasons.

But Clemens has yet to say whether he's done pitching in the major leagues for good. Last spring, Clemens helped coach the Astros farmhands in camp. That May, at age 44, he ended up signing a pro-rated contract with the Yankees.

"He's done a lot of good things for us," McLane told MLB.com. "We wouldn't have had some of the successes we've had if Roger Clemens hadn't been an Astro for three years."