Clemens avoids steroid questions, will throw to minor leaguers

Updated: February 27, 2008, 9:01 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Roger Clemens arrived at the Houston Astros' minor league clubhouse on Tuesday and walked straight to a fenced-in bullpen to greet his oldest son, Koby, a catcher in the Astros' system.

He snapped at a photographer who started clicking pictures.

"This isn't a zoo!" Clemens barked.

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was calmer a few minutes later, but refused to answer questions about the Mitchell report or a possible criminal investigation into his denials of steroid use.

"Everything's been said that needs to be said on that," Clemens said. "We're moving forward. It's baseball time."

Clemens thinks the public is tired of hearing about performance-enhancing drugs in the sport. He sure is.

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"I think you ought to be asking baseball questions," he said. "I think it's time to move on and get on with baseball."

Clemens will pitch batting practice from Wednesday through Friday to minor leaguers. He arrived one day after The New York Times reported a House committee had drafted the letter asking the Justice Department to look into whether Clemens committed perjury. Clemens has repeatedly denied that he used steroids or performance-enhancing drugs, allegations brought by former personal trainer Brian McNamee.

Clemens should know by the end of the week if Congress will ask the Justice Department to investigate whether the star pitcher or his accuser made false statements under oath.

Clemens' lawyer says they knew long ago that is where things probably were headed.

The majority and minority sides of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee met Tuesday to discuss how to proceed on the Clemens matter.

"I can't say anything about discussions today," Phil Schiliro, chief of staff for committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Our goal is a decision this week."

Waxman and ranking Republican Tom Davis of Virginia spoke with each other during a committee hearing about missing White House e-mails. When that hearing ended, Davis headed for the majority side's offices, rather than the minority side, as is customary.

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Keith Ausbrook, Republican general counsel for the committee, wrote: "We will be consulting with the Democrats on what to do next. I cannot comment on any specific meeting or step."

"I'm not commenting on any of that," Clemens said. "Everything's said that needs to be said on that topic."

Congress got involved after hearing Clemens vigorously and repeatedly deny McNamee's allegations after they appeared in former Senate majority leader George Mitchell's report on drug use in baseball.

Congress may decide to ask the Justice Department to investigate one man, both -- or neither. And then the Justice Department can opt to open an inquiry -- or drop the matter altogether.

"I haven't heard anything, one way or the other. We're not waiting with bated breath," said Clemens' lead attorney, Rusty Hardin. "We always assumed that there would be the very real possibility of a referral if Roger testified differently than the Mitchell report. We will be neither surprised if they do nor surprised if they don't."

Clemens said he hasn't spoken to Andy Pettitte since his former teammate held a news conference at New York Yankees camp last week. Pettitte said Clemens had told him nearly a decade ago that Clemens used human growth hormone. Clemens said at the hearing that Pettitte "misremembers" the conversation.

"I'm not going to comment on Andy or any of those matters," Clemens said.

Clemens said he did not watch Pettitte's news conference and has no immediate plans to visit Pettitte while he's in Florida. The Yankees are working out in Tampa, about 90 miles away, and Clemens said he doesn't intend to visit his former team either.

Clemens, who pitched for the Astros from 2004-06, has a personal services contract with the Astros that will kick in when he officially retires.

"I'm going to work here," Clemens said in the parking lot of the Astros minor league clubhouse in Kissimmee. "I've got some stuff to do here. We're going to have a good time."

Clemens also deflected questions about reports that photos exists showing Clemens at a party thrown by Jose Canseco in June 1998. McNamee said Clemens was at the party, but Clemens denied being there in a deposition to congressional investigators on Feb. 5.

This isn't a zoo!

--Roger Clemens

In the Mitchell report on doping in baseball, released in December, McNamee alleged that Clemens spoke with Canseco at the party and soon after approached the trainer about using performance-enhancing drugs.

ABC News has learned that Jeff Novitzky, the IRS agent who has spearheaded the federal investigation into the use of steroids by professional athletes, has asked to speak to Canseco about pictures of Clemens at the party that Clemens swore, under oath in his congressional deposition, that he did not attend.

The photos, if verified, could put Clemens in legal jeopardy

Meanwhile, The New York Daily News reported on Tuesday that another major league player told congressional investigators that Clemens often joked in the clubhouse that his wife Debbie Clemens and Canseco's ex-wife Jessica compared the results of their surgically enhanced breasts at the party in question.

On Tuesday, Clemens refused to address the party in any way.

"I've made my statements on that and we're moving forward," he said.

Koby Clemens said Monday that his parents seemed "exhausted" after Roger Clemens testified in a nationally televised hearing on Feb. 13. Roger Clemens said his life has slowly returned to normal since the hearing.

"You put all your energy into that," he said. "I do that with just about everything I partake in. It was great. We're getting back to doing the things we love to do and we're moving forward."

The 45-year-old Clemens also dodged a question about whether he would consider playing again. He said he's still staying in shape, running and lifting weights regularly. He's running in a charity race in Houston on Saturday.

"I don't want to get put in that situation," he said. "At this point, I don't plan on playing. But I've said that for three years. Next thing I know, I'm tying up my cleats for real."

He pulled up to the minor league clubhouse just before 1 p.m. in a gleaming black Hummer. Wearing a light blue T-shirt, blue jeans and a white baseball cap, he briefly chatted with his son and some of the other Astros' young prospects before speaking with reporters.

"I'll be ready and available, whatever they need," Clemens said.

Koby Clemens did not speak with reporters when he arrived earlier Tuesday for the second day of minicamp. He jogged into the minor league clubhouse after a team official came out and said he was late for a meeting.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.