Andy Pettitte and HGH: The Deposition and the Damage Done
Andy Pettitte met with the press yesterday. And I guess it was a good thing that I’d just finished reading his deposition because I spotted a few things the reporters didn't.
Pettitte thought a lot of Brian McNamee as a trainer (pg. 10), and he says that the Mitchell Report is accurate where it says that Brian McNamee tried to discourage him from taking HGH in 2002. (pg.12) Pettitte stated that “[McNamee] told me that he did not think that I would feel comfortable doing it once I did it.” (Pg. 14)
Pettitte said he used HGH in 2002 because he felt he owed his team, that “it would be the honorable thing to do, if I could do whatever I could to try to get back on the field and try to earn my money.” (Pg. 15)
Pettitte doesn’t know where McNamee got the HGH from, and he never asked, though he wouldn’t have taken it if he had known that it came from the Mets clubhouse guy (Kirk Radomski). (Pg. 18)
He first discussed HGH with the Rocket in 1999, he said.. This is when Rocket told him that he had taken HGH, though he doesn’t recall any specifics. “I wasn’t surprised to hear this,” Pettitte said. (Pgs. 20-21) Pettitte then told McNamee of this conversation, and McNamee was upset. Pettitte had the impression that it was McNamee who was supplying Rocket. (Pgs. 22-23) He also told his wife. “I tell my wife everything.” (Pg. 23) And Pettitte’s wife confirmed this statement in her affidavit.
He next spoke to the Rocket about HGH in 2005 during the first Congressional hearings on steroids in baseball, he said.. Pettitte stated he was going to admit his HGH to a reporter if asked, at this time, and he asked Rocket what Rocket was going to say. “And [Clemens] said, I never told you that. And I said, you didn’t? And he said no. I told you that Debbie used HGH.” (Pgs. 26-27) Though this contradicted the Rocket’s earlier statement, Pettitte “wasn’t going to argue with him over it.” (Pgs. 27-28)
They later returned to the topic of Rocket’s confession. Pettitte recalls that it occurred at Rocket’s house after the 1999 season. And Pettitte discussed this with McNamee soon thereafter. (Pgs. 65-67) McNamee has said in his testimony that C.J. Nitkowski and Justin Thompson were present at this time, but Pettitte does not recall them being there when he talked to McNamee about this. (Pg. 67) Pettitte does recall a training session when all of them were present, but he doesn’t recall this conversation taking place at that time. He doesn’t deny the conversation; he just doesn’t remember it. (Pgs. 41-42)
McNamee testified that Pettitte was playing long toss with Nitkowski at the time that Pettitte confronted McNamee. Nitkowski, in his deposition, remembers a workout session at Rocket’s with Rocket, Pettitte, McNamee and Thompson, and he recalls that he was long tossing with Pettitte, but he could not hear the discussion between McNamee and Pettitte. “If we were playing long toss, and they were talking, there is a good chance that I would not be in earshot of that,” Nitkowski testified. (Pg. 27) Nitkowski further testified that conversations about steroids and HGH were always in private. (Pg. 27) He also testified that he considered taking steroids but that McNamee convinced him not to do it: “I mean, if he would have told me yes, I would have done it.” (Pgs. 14-16)
When pressed on the 1999 conversation with Rocket, which Rocket claimed in 2005 that Pettitte misremembered, Pettitte testified: “I don’t think I misunderstood him. Just to answer the question for you when it was brought up to me, I don’t think I misunderstood him.” (Pg. 91)
As for the use of HGH in 2004, Pettitte stated he “was desperate.” (Pg. 38) He had just signed a big contract with the Astros and he didn’t want to let down the fans. He heard from McNamee that his dad was using HGH. He had his dad bring the HGH to his house, and Pettitte injected himself twice. (Pg. 38) He didn’t mention this 2004 use in his press release admitting to HGH use because “I didn’t want to bring my dad – he’s my dad. I didn’t want to bring my dad into it.” (Pg 55)
He admitted this to the investigators because “I’m under oath now, and you know, I have to tell you guys the truth about it.” (Pg. 56)
Looking back at this 2004 HGH use, Pettitte says “it was about as boneheaded as a – you know, just as boneheaded a thing as I could have done.” (Pg. 57)
Pettitte made it clear that when he took HGH it was not banned by baseball. (Pg. 39)
He first found out he would be in the Mitchell Report about a week before the report’s release. McNamee called and asked him to call from a landline. Pettitte talked to his agents and the Hendricks advised him to not contact McNamee: “They said, whatever you do, don’t call him back.” (Pg. 49)
Pettitte, personally, never received a letter from George Mitchell asking to speak to him. This letter went to his agent and they decided, since no other players were talking to Mitchell, to not speak to him either. (Pg. 51) He knew Mitchell didn’t want to talk to him about the Jason Grimsley allegations. He just had a feeling that it was about his 2002 HGH use. (Pg. 52)
That brings us to yesterday’s press conference, where Pettitte admitted that he hasn’t spoken with Clemens since the hearings. He stated that no one pressured him to not damage Rocket. When asked about the so-called Code among ballplayers to not tell, Pettitte stated that “Code or no Code, when you get put under oath…you just try to be honest.”
He doesn’t consider himself to be a cheater, but concedes that is for other people to decide. “Was I stupid? Yes….But I don’t consider myself a cheater.”
As to Debbie Clemens and the misremembered statements, Pettitte said he wasn’t “going to go there. I’ve had to testify under oath, and so has Roger.”
A religious man, Pettitte went to the Bible when asked about why he ratted his out his father to the Feds, saying that on his flight to D.C. for his deposition, his wife was reading the Bible and she handed him a passage to read: Roman’s XIII, verses 4 and 5: “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.”
The questioning at the presser was okay – though somehow Ortiz and Justice got to ask questions – but there were one issue that wasn’t discussed, and I’m going to raise it here in case someone else ever gets that chance.
Pettitte stated in his deposition that, in 2005, when he asked Clemens about the HGH for a second time, that if reporters were to ask him about HGH, he would admit to it. So, why didn’t he? When he was linked to Jason Grimsley in 2006, Pettitte denied any HGH use. What happened to change his mind?
I suppose that one thing I want to know is whether Drayton McLane and Tim Purpura had any role in Pettitte’s denial, for Pettitte states that he and Rocket were called in for a meeting with Drayton and Purpura before the second-to-last game of the 2006 season, and at this meeting, the Jason Grimsley affidavit was discussed. (Pg. 52) Pettitte and Clemens were contacted after the Grimsley story hit the Los Angeles Times. So, even if he wasn’t in the Grimsley affidavit, he was still asked about HGH. Why didn’t he admit it? He said that he was ready to admit this to reporters in 2005 if asked. So why not in 2006 if asked?
What did Drayton know? When did Drayton know it? Did Pettitte admit anything to Drayton in that meeting? Did they coerce him into not confessing? Or did something else happen? Did the Hendricks have anything to do with this? Did Rocket?
This could all be nothing. But it’s kind of gnawing away at me, and I guess I’d like some kind of answer. I’m surprised none of the reporters asked about this because it seems pretty obvious to me. Pettitte made it clear in his deposition that he was ready to confess in 2005, and that this is why he asked Rocket about his HGH use. This is where Debbie doing HGH comes from. But something changed over the next year because come October 2006, Pettitte was denying the HGH.
Look, Pettitte’s now spilling his guts. And it’s important that he’s spilling his guts now, because he’s under oath. But damn it, what happened? What caused him to change his mind about confessing? Did Drayton know any of this? Did Purpura? Hell, did Rocket?
I want to know why I’m the only one reading these damn depositions. He stated all of this in the deposition. He didn’t hide it. So why didn’t anybody ask? It wouldn’t be that hard. Unless the press didn’t do their homework. They asked everything else. Hell, Ortiz was asking Pettitte about how he felt when he told his kids. But nobody bothered to ask why he didn’t confess in 2006 when he stated that he was ready to confess in 2005.
It’s just so damn obvious. Isn’t it? It’s not just me, is it?
Oh, and for anyone who cares, when asked about Rocket’s suspected steroid use, C.J. Nitkowski stated the prevailing thinking of his fellow players: “I think that’s fair to say, that there was always maybe a little bit of an assumption.” (Pg. 24)
-- John Royal
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.