Roger Clemens played a taped telephone conversation for reporters Monday in which his former trainer, who accused him of using steroids, said, "I will go to jail, I will do whatever you want."
Reporters listened intently to the 17-minute recording of a conversation last Friday between Clemens and Brian McNamee, who repeatedly asked the pitcher, "What do you want me to do?"
"I need somebody to tell the truth, Mac," Clemens said. "For the life of me, I'm trying to figure out why you told guys I did steroids."
"I understand that," McNamee replied.
"I'm telling the truth and I want it out there," Clemens said, to which McNamee responded, "Tell me what you want me to do. I will go to jail, I will do whatever you want."
"It is what it is and it's not good and I want it to go away," McNamee continued. "And I'm with you, I'm in your corner.
"I don't want this to happen. But I would also like not to go to jail, too."
"But it has nothing to do with you. But I would like to sit down with you in person and talk with you."
Clemens's lawyer, Rusty Hardin, suggested that McNamee is a desperate man, which is why he initiated contact.
"I don't have any money, I have nothing," McNamee told Clemens. "I'm not doing a book deal.
"I got offered seven figures to go on TV. I didn't do it, I didn't take it, I didn't do anything.
"All I did was what I thought was right - and I never thought it was right — but I thought that I had no other choice, put it that way."
After the tape was played, Clemens fielded 13 questions from reporters before testily ending the media session on the subject of induction into the Hall of Fame.
"Do you think I played my career because I'm worried about the damn Hall of Fame?" he said. "You keep your vote.
"I do not need the Hall of Fame to justify that I put my butt on the line and I worked my tail off. And I defy anybody to say I did it by cheating or taking any shortcuts, OK?"
Clemens, 45, emphatically denies using steroids, and filed a defamation lawsuit Sunday against McNamee, a former strength and conditioning coach with the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees.
"All of McNamee's accusations are false and defamatory per se," the suit said. "They injured Clemens's reputation and exposed him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule and financial injury.
"McNamee made the allegations with actual malice, knowing they were false."
Clemens disputed McNamee's claims in an interview aired Sunday on CBS's 60 Minutes, and confirmed Monday that he will testify Jan. 16 before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is looking into steroid use in American sports.
McNamee, Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, retired major leaguer Chuck Knoblauch and Kirk Radomski, a former clubhouse attendant who allegedly provided McNamee and others with steroids, have also been asked to testify.
"I'm going to Congress and I'm going to tell the truth," Clemens said.
Clemens in Mitchell Report
McNamee told former U.S. Senate majority leader George Mitchell that, in addition to steroids, he injected Clemens with human growth hormone 16 to 21 times in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
Baseball banned steroids in September 2002 and HGH in January 2005.
Clemens, winner of seven Cy Young Awards as top pitcher, refuted allegations attributed to McNamee in the Mitchell report — a document detailing a 20-month investigation into drugs in baseball that implicated 85 players.
"If I would have known what this man, what Brian McNamee said in this report, I'd have been down there in a heartbeat to take care of it," Clemens told 60 Minutes.
Clemens insisted that McNamee injected him with vitamin B12 and a painkiller called lidocaine, and that he tried an arthritis medication called Vioxx.
"I was eating Vioxx like it was Skittles," he told 60 Minutes. "And now these people who are supposedly regulating it tell me it is bad for my heart."
Lured out of retirement
Clemens retired four years ago, only to be lured back to pitch three partial seasons for the Houston Astros and a fourth with the Yankees, who signed him May 6 for more than $28 million US.
He was paid a prorated share of roughly $18.2 million US last season, when he posted a 6-6 record and 4.18 earned-run average in 18 appearances for New York.
"I thought the press conference spoke for itself," Yankees senior vice-president Hank Steinbrenner said. "[But] I thought the media commentary after the press conference was over was a little harsh — too much rush to judgment in this country.
"Whether he is telling the truth or not, I have no clue. But I'm not going to say, "Well, he is lying" — like everybody on TV did after he was done."
Clemens is 354-184 lifetime with a 3.11 earned-run average, 118 complete games and 46 shutouts in 709 appearances over 24 MLB seasons for the Boston Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros.
The veteran right-hander ranks second behind Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in career strikeouts with 4,672 over 4,916 2/3 innings.
Ryan struck out 5,714 batters in 5,386 innings pitched.