What Is Pettitte Going to Say?

Just before I went to bed last night, a commenter in the previous post (Slugfest) linked to this article in the New York Times. I made a brief comment, but I think this new information deserves a post of its own.

The gist of the story is that Andy Pettitte may testify about conversations with Roger Clemens in which Clemens disclosed past steroid use, which will add some corroboration to McNamee’s Mitchell Report testimony.

Andy Pettitte will soon give a sworn deposition to staff members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and lawyers for his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, say they believe they know part of what he will say.

Pettitte and McNamee talked in 2001 and 2002 about Roger Clemens’s use of steroids and human growth hormone, McNamee’s lawyers, Earl Ward and Richard Emery, said Tuesday.

As a result, Ward and Emery said they believed that Pettitte, who has acknowledged receiving H.G.H. from McNamee in 2002, will provide the first account of contemporaneous conversations with McNamee about Clemens’s use of performance-enhancing drugs in earlier years.

Does “earlier years” mean prior to McNamee’s involvement with Clemens, or does it refer to purported use in 1998, 2000, and 2001? Given McNamee’s plea deal, I suspect it is the latter, because otherwise he would have violated his agreement by not revealing this information to Senator Mitchell.

The big revelation is this.

Emery and Ward said that not only did McNamee and Pettitte talk about Clemens’s drug use on several occasions, but that Clemens might have influenced Pettitte the first time Pettitte asked to use a performance-enhancing drug.

“There was a conversation in the gym where Pettitte came over to Brian and told him, ‘Why didn’t you tell me about that stuff?’ ” Emery said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “It appeared to be after a conversation with Clemens, but he didn’t know what was said in that conversation.”

Ward, in a separate telephone interview, said, “Brian discouraged him at first, and then less than a year later he came back and that is when Brian injected him.”

McNamee’s lawyers are implying that Pettitte used human growth hormone after talking with Clemens. McNamee initially discouraged him from using it, but Pettitte would get the drugs from McNamee during the 2002 season. The reported circumstances regarding McNamee and Pettitte are consistent with testimony on on pages 175 and 176 of the Mitchell Report.

But there is also some incongruous evidence in the Mitchell Report. According to McNamee, Clemens used growth hormone during the 2000 season, did not like it, and did not use it again in 2001.

McNamee concluded from Clemens’s statements and conduct that Clemens did not like using human growth hormone (Clemens told him that he did not like the “bellybutton shot”). To McNamee’s knowledge, Clemens did not use human growth hormone again. (p. 172)

While it is possible that Clemens and Pettitte did have a conversation about using steroids and growth hormone, I think it is unlikely that Clemens encouraged him to use something that he didn’t like. The one possibility is that Clemens said something like “HGH did not do what I wanted it to do, but it could help your elbow.”

Another interesting aspect to this case is that Clemens and Pettitte have the same agent, Randy Hendricks. Hendricks is running the public defenses of both clients. I think he would be aware of such a potential revelation, and he would have conducted his defense of Clemens differently if what McNamee’s representatives are saying is true. But, it is certainly possible that Pettitte is going to testify in a way that harms Clemens.

The one side missing from this story is Pettitte’s. I am curious to see how he responds to these claims.

Here is my prediction of what happens. Pettitte will admit to having conversations with McNamee in which McNamee mentioned Clemens’s use of steroids. But, he will deny that Clemens encouraged him to use or that he ever admitted using performance-enhancers. McNamee is hedging a lot when he claims Pettitte “appeared” to have a conversation with Clemens before asking McNamee about growth hormone. McNamee even admits that he has no knowledge of what Clemens may have said to Pettitte. The result is no perjury charges for anyone, and we are back to where we started.

Addendum: I’ve read a few news reports on the “conversation” between Clemens, Pettitte, and McNamee. All are different.

In the NY Times, the conversation happens in “the gym”, and McNamee didn’t hear the conversation.

“There was a conversation in the gym where Pettitte came over to Brian and told him, ‘Why didn’t you tell me about that stuff?’ ” Emery said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “It appeared to be after a conversation with Clemens, but he didn’t know what was said in that conversation.”

In the AP story, the parties are at Clemens’s house, and comes closer to insinuating that McNamee overheard the conversation.

Ward said the discussion he was referring to occurred at Clemens’ house.

“Based on what we know, there was a situation where Andy was speaking to Roger in Brian’s presence, then Andy came over to Brian and essentially said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me about this stuff?’ He referred to HGH,” Ward said.

The NY Daily News also says the meeting occurred at Clemens’s house, and states that McNamee did overhear the content of the Pettitte-Clemens conversation.

During the 2001-02 offseason, according to Ward, Pettitte joined Clemens at his suburban Houston home to work out. Also present was McNamee, the former trainer who last year fingered them as performance-enhancing drug users in the report written by former Sen. George Mitchell.

McNamee overheard Clemens and Pettitte talking about performance-enhancing drugs, according to Ward. Pettitte allegedly then turned to the trainer and said, “Why didn’t you tell me about this stuff?”

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