Cito Gaston had harsh words for Roger Clemens on Thursday. ((Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) )

Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston didn't mince words Thursday in discussing Roger Clemens, calling the former major-league pitcher "a complete asshole."

Gaston, now in his second stint as Toronto's manager, told reporters that he suspects Clemens played a role in his firing the first time around in 1997.

"I wouldn't doubt that," Gaston said prior to Toronto's 8-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Lakeland, Fla.

"He is an asshole himself, a complete asshole. I would say that loud right in his face. It is all about him, nobody else but him."

Gaston said Clemens worked to undermine his authority, once questioning a decision to leave pitcher Pat Hentgen in a game behind his back and in front of the team.

"Him and I had some words at one time and I still regret to this day that I didn't get right up in his face and challenge him," Gaston said. "It was one time he felt like I had left Pat Hentgen in a game too long.

"Now you ask Pat Hentgen what he thinks of him [Clemens]. It isn't too good, either."

'He is not a good person'

In his book, The Rocket that fell to Earth, author Jeff Pearlman alleged that Clemens, who is nicknamed the Rocket, pushed for the hiring of Tim Johnson, who was later fired by the Blue Jays for lying about his military record.

"He is not one of my favourite persons," Gaston said of Clemens.

"He is a hell of a pitcher but, to me, he is not a good person. He is a pretty good double-talker as far as I'm concerned."

Gaston previously managed Toronto from 1989 to 1997, leading them to four American League East Division titles, two AL pennants and back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993.

He returned last June 20 to replace the fired John Gibbons as manager.

Gaston is one of nine men honoured on the Blue Jays Level of Excellence at the Rogers Centre, and he was inducted the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.

With files from the Canadian Press