In other words, during his expansive investigation -- the details of which were released Thursday -- it was hard for Mitchell to get rid of the stigma that he would somehow favor the Red Sox.
However, Mitchell ended his news conference by staunchly defending his integrity and noting that no team -- including the Red Sox -- was investigated with anything less than 100 percent effort.
"Take a look at how the investigation was conducted," said Mitchell. "Read the report. You will not find any evidence of bias, of special treatment of the Red Sox or anyone else, because there isn't. They had no effect -- none whatsoever -- on this investigation for this report. As for players, I remind you that it is common now for players to serve many clubs. Many of the players named on this report played for many years with other clubs, including the Red Sox."
Perhaps the biggest name in Mitchell's report is former Red Sox legend Roger Clemens, though his alleged steroid use, according to Mitchell's findings, occurred after he left the team. Mo Vaughn, an icon in his years with the Sox, was linked to human growth hormone in Mitchell's report, but the year mentioned is 2001, when the left-handed slugger was with the Angels.
No star players from the 2004 or 2007 Red Sox World Series championship teams were named in the Report.
There were several current or former Yankees players of considerable magnitude -- including Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi and Chuck Knoblauch -- which might have raised the ire of conspiracy theorists. However, Mitchell's job was to deal with reality.
"First, of course, the investigation did not focus on any one club or any one player," said Mitchell. "[Former Mets clubhouse attendant] Kirk Radomski lived in New York, and as a result, he dealt with more players from New York. We, of course, did not select Kirk Radomski and we did not select the players that he dealt with. We just asked him to tell us what happened and we told him we wanted only the truth. Nothing but the truth. We didn't want anything more than the truth, or anything less. Indeed, we told that to every witness."
Pore through the 311-page report and you will find some ties to the Red Sox.
Eric Gagne, who was acquired by the Red Sox on July 31, 2007, from the Rangers, is on the Report, though his use of performance-enhancing drugs is linked to his time with the Dodgers. Still, Mitchell proved his vigilance in Boston matters in the Gagne section of the Report.
In the offseason following the 2006 season, the Red Sox pursued Gagne on the free-agent market, though he wound up signing with the Rangers.
Mitchell detailed an e-mail from Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein to Red Sox scout Mark Delpiano on Nov. 1, 2006, that said, "Have you done any digging on Gagne? I know the Dodgers think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?"
Delpiano's response in Mitchell's Report reads as follows: "Some digging on Gagne and steroids IS the issue. He had a checkered medical past throughout his career including minor leagues. Lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy, maintain body and re invent self. What made him a tenacious closer was the max effort plus stuff ... Mentality without the weapons and without steroid help probably creates a large risk in bounce-back durability and the ability to throw average while allowing the changeup to play as it once did ... Personally, durability (or lack of) will follow Gagne."
Gagne was highly ineffective in his three months with the Red Sox and the right-hander signed with the Milwaukee Brewers as a free agent.
Another player from the 2007 Red Sox named in Mitchell's report is reliever Brendan Donnelly, who didn't pitch after June because of Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. As with Gagne, Donnelly's alleged use came when he was with another team. And, again, he reports some research the Red Sox did before signing him.
Mitchell wrote that, "In considering whether to trade for Donnelly in 2007, Red Sox baseball operations personnel internally discussed concerns that Donnelly was using performance enhancing substances."
Mitchell then printed an e-mail exchange that was sent from Zack Scott of the Red Sox's baseball operations staff to Ben Cherington, the club's vice president of player personnel: "He was a juice guy but his velocity hasn't changed a lot over the years ... If he was a juice guy, he could be a breakdown candidate."
Kyle Evans of Boston's baseball operations staff then chimed in with an e-mail that said: "I haven't heard many good things about him, w[ith] significant steroid rumors."
Now that Mitchell's findings are complete, he is expected to soon rejoin the Red Sox in an active capacity. The criticism he received about his potential allegiance to the Red Sox during the investigation brought back memories for Mitchell of a chapter in his political life.
"When I went to Northern Ireland, there was considerable controversy because some claimed that I had conflict because I'm an American, a Catholic and my father's parents emigrated from the Republic of Ireland to the United States," Mitchell said. "The criticism I received there was far more harsh and intense than anything I've gotten here. But I didn't quit, I stayed with it, and eventually we got a peace agreement. After I finished my work there, since then, no one has ever questioned, has ever repeated that claim. So, my request now, is as it was in Northern Ireland -- judge me by my work. Take a look at how the investigation was conducted. Read the report."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.