[an error occurred while processing this directive]
|Email story||Comment||Letter to the editor|
Pitcher says he pondered retirement after HGH use was revealed.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published February 19, 2008
TAMPA - Despite spending most of his career in pinstripes, Andy Pettitte has always preferred a low profile. So once he was named in December's Mitchell report, the Yankees pitcher was tempted to disappear with his family to the seclusion of his Texas ranch.
Retiring was a serious option, partially because Pettitte feared days like Monday, when he was the focus of the baseball world for all the wrong reasons.
"I'd be lying if I said that (retiring) didn't cross my mind," he said. "The easy way would have been to not have to face anybody anymore with this, but I think I just felt that would have kind of been the cowardly way out."
On his first day at Yankees camp, Pettitte apologized for the "embarrassment" he caused the game for using human growth hormone during an hourlong news conference, his first public remarks since the Mitchell report.
"I want to tell anyone who is an Andy Pettitte fan that I'm sorry, especially any kids that might look up to me," Pettitte told about 150 reporters at Legends Field. "I would never want a young person to do what I did."
Pettitte steered away from questions about friend and former teammate Roger Clemens, saying: "I'm just not going to go there. I testified under oath, and Roger said what he had to say."
Pettitte said he hasn't talked to Clemens since he gave a sworn statement that Clemens told him several years ago that he used HGH, a conversation Clemens said under oath that Pettitte "misremembered."
"It's put a strain on our relationship because I usually talk to him," Pettitte said of Clemens. "I hope the friendship with Roger will still be there."
Pettitte described his psyche as "desperate" and "stupid" in 2002, when former trainer Brian McNamee told him HGH would help him recover from an elbow injury. Pettitte tried it twice then but said it was never to gain a competitive edge. He admitted using HGH briefly again in 2004, this time obtained from his father, in another attempt to come back from injury.
Asked if he considered himself a cheater, Pettitte said, "That's for other people to decide."
"If you think I'm lying, then they should call me a cheater," he said. "Do I think I'm a cheater? I don't, because from the bottom of my heart, God knows my heart, I know why I was doing this."
Pettitte threw 35 pitches at the minor-league complex, then had an emotional meeting at his request with owner George Steinbrenner, general manager Brian Cashman and Steinbrenner's sons, Hank and Hal.
Then he faced the media, flanked by Cashman and manager Joe Girardi. Teammates Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera sat a few feet away.
"They're a family, and they believe in each other through thick and thin," Girardi said.
Pettitte hoped speaking out and seeing how the past two months affected him would help rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs.
"I'll tell you one thing," he said. "If you're doing anything and you see what I've been put through and what Roger's been put through, I think you'd clean yourself up real quick."
[Last modified February 19, 2008, 00:12:39]