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Pettitte's testimony begins in Clemens trial

Pettitte's testimony begins in Clemens trial

Pettitte's testimony begins in Clemens trial
WASHINGTON -- For about three hours Tuesday, Andy Pettitte took the witness stand under oath at the federal perjury trial of Roger Clemens, his childhood pitching hero who became his close friend and teammate.

The testimony Pettitte gave under direct examination from Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham conveyed much the same message Pettitte delivered in a deposition to Congress in 2008: Clemens told him during a winter workout prior to the 2000 season that he'd used human-growth hormone, and five years later denied that was what he said.

Pettitte, the 39-year-old left-hander currently making a comeback with the Yankees after two years of retirement, spoke softly and succinctly throughout his testimony, which continued with a cross-examination that will conclude when court reconvenes Wednesday morning. Pettitte spoke of his own use of human-growth hormone in 2002 and 2004, as he did before Congress, and was frank about his feelings when asked by Durham about using HGH.

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"I wish I never would have," Pettitte said, prompting Durham to ask him why that was. "A lot of stuff's been made public, and my name's been out there. I wouldn't want kids to think I'm recommending that for them to do. If I hadn't done it, I wouldn't be here today."

Wearing a gray suit and black-and-silver striped tie, Pettitte took the stand at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia shortly before noon ET and testified for a half-hour before a lunch break. He then continued his testimony under questioning from Durham before defense attorney Michael Attanasio conducted a cross-examination that was not completed when Judge Reggie Walton sent the trial into recess at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards in his 24-year Major League career, is charged with one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making a false statement and two counts of perjury stemming from his Feb. 5, 2008, deposition and his Feb. 13, 2008, appearance before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, during which he denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs. Strength trainer Brian McNamee, who worked with both Clemens and Pettitte for several years, testified before that same hearing that he injected Clemens on numerous occasions with steroids and human-growth hormone.

Pettitte's recollection that Clemens told him about using HGH is another key element to the prosecution's case. Clemens testified before Congress that Pettitte must have misheard or "misremembered" what he said about HGH.

Pettitte and Clemens did not appear to make eye contact as Pettitte took the stand, and Clemens maintained a stoic demeanor throughout Pettitte's testimony -- although Clemens showed a half-smile when standing to be identified by Pettitte at the end of his direct testimony. Pettitte often rested his chin in his hands during sometimes lengthy bench conferences following objections, but was attentive and cooperative with both attorneys interviewing him.

At the beginning of his testimony, Pettitte testified about how he became close friends with Clemens, his childhood pitching idol, once the latter joined the Yankees in 1999. Pettitte recounted for the jury the first time he met Clemens, when they were facing each other at Fenway Park at the end of the 1996 regular season.

"It fired me up," Pettitte testified of the meeting before a Yankees-Red Sox game on Sept. 28, 1996. "He's somebody you've looked up to and watched since you were in high school. To be able to see him and meet him, that was awesome."

Pettitte said their similar work ethic and love for the game of baseball was what led to them becoming close friends after the Yankees acquired Clemens in a trade with Toronto.

Following the lunch break, Pettitte delivered a key piece of information for the prosecution when he reiterated the account he gave Congress of a conversation he and Clemens had sometime before the 2000 season.

"I was working out at Roger's home at his gym," Pettitte testified. "I don't remember whether it was in the gym or outside the gym, but Roger had mentioned to me he had taken HGH and it could help with recovery. That's really all I can remember about the conversation."

Durham then walked Pettitte through a timeline of events that he wrote down on a chart as they went along. Other events on that timeline included Pettitte's own use of HGH in 2002 -- although by the judge's order he could not mention that it was McNamee who administered the twice-daily injections for two days -- and his self-injection of HGH in 2004, both to try and help recover from elbow injuries. He testified he didn't think HGH helped him in either case.

Pettitte recounted a conversation he says took place in the kitchen of the Astros' Spring Training facility during the 2005 hearings on performance-enhancing drug use in baseball. Pettitte said he became concerned that media members would ask him if he'd ever used PEDs, and asked Clemens what he was going to do if asked about his use of HGH they'd discussed years earlier.

"He just said, 'What are you talking about?'" Pettitte said, later adding that Clemens said he must have been thinking about how he told Pettitte of Debbie Clemens, his wife, using HGH.

"Obviously, I was a little flustered because I thought he told me that he did [use HGH], so I just thought, 'Well, there's no point asking him or talking to him about it now.'"

The timeline also included when Pettitte said he and Clemens were informed by Astros GM Tim Purpura that their names were going to be mentioned as having used PEDs in an L.A. Times article regarding the raid on former Major Leaguer Jason Grimsley's house.

Although he could not discuss receiving drugs from McNamee, Pettitte testified that "Mac" -- the nickname he was allowed to use for McNamee during testimony -- was and remains a friend to this day. He answered "Yes" to Durham's questions about whether McNamee was loyal to him, whether he still considered McNamee to be a friend and whether McNamee made him a better baseball player.

The cross-examination by Attanasio began with the friendship between Pettitte and Clemens, and how Pettitte helped recruit Clemens to come out of retirement and play for the Astros when the left-hander joined them in 2004.

"I knew if we added him to that team, we were going to the World Series," Pettitte said, adding when asked by Attanasio that the Astros did in fact reach the Fall Classic in 2005.

Much of Attanasio's questioning related to qualities Clemens displayed throughout his career that Pettitte could observe: his work ethic, his pitching mechanics, his preparation, his development of one of the game's best split-finger fastballs late in his career, and his mentoring of younger players. Pettitte agreed that Clemens was extraordinary in all those aspects and that none had anything to do with PEDs.

"Did he ever once suggest to you that you should use HGH or steroids?" Attanasio asked.

"No," Pettitte replied.

Pettitte also testified that he received vitamin B12 shots from team personnel while with the Yankees, as well as more pain injections than he could recount over the years from Yankees and Astros team doctors and trainers -- but never from McNamee. Clemens' testimony before Congress was that he received vitamin B12 and lidocaine shots from McNamee, not steroids or HGH.

Before court went into recess for the day, Attanasio was just getting to the conversation Pettitte testified he had with Clemens about HGH -- with Pettitte agreeing that it was a "passing comment during a workout" -- and confirmed that Pettitte was aware that McNamee was dismissed by the Yankees in 2001 for an incident in Florida that embarrassed the club and in which law enforcement was involved. The fact that it was an alleged sexual assault for which charges were not filed has been ruled inadmissible at this point, so Attanasio's questioning worked around that.

During the morning of the eighth day of the trial, defense attorney Rusty Hardin continued to vigorously cross-examine congressional staffer Phil Barnett, who was majority staff director and participated in the 2008 deposition of Clemens. As occurred the day before, there were several objections by the government and bench conferences as Hardin went through the 15 different obstructive acts listed in the charge of obstruction of Congress against Clemens.

Barnett continued to say the questions posed and answers given were relevant to the investigation as to whether the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball was accurate. The government will get a chance at redirect examination of Barnett after Pettitte's testimony concludes.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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