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Baseball notebook

Waxman regrets hearing

He says Clemens was embarrassed

Email|Print| Text size + By Duff Wilson and Michael Schmidt
New York Times / February 15, 2008

A day after a dramatic, nationally televised hearing that pitted Roger Clemens against his former personal trainer and Democrats against Republicans, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said yesterday he regretted holding the hearing in the first place.

The chairman, Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat, said the four-hour hearing unnecessarily embarrassed Clemens, who he thought did not tell the truth, as well as the trainer, Brian McNamee, who he thought was unfairly attacked by committee Republicans.

"I think Clemens and McNamee both came out quite sullied, and I didn't think it was a hearing that needed to be held in order to get the facts out about the Mitchell Report," Waxman said.

"I'm sorry we had the hearing. I regret that we had the hearing. And the only reason we had the hearing was because Roger Clemens and his lawyers insisted on it."

The decision to hold the hearing had been made in early January, as Clemens was publicly challenging the veracity of the Mitchell Report. But Waxman said he and Tom Davis of Virginia, the ranking Republican and former chairman of the committee, decided by last Friday that they did not need to conduct the hearing as scheduled because depositions taken last week from Clemens, McNamee, Andy Pettitte, and others were thorough, as was the committee staff's own investigation, and that a hearing would not provide a great deal more insight.

"Roger Clemens's lawyers told us he wanted the opportunity to make his case in public," Waxman said. "He had his opportunity." Now, Waxman added, 90 percent of the people being asked their opinion of the hearing do not believe Clemens.

Waxman's regrets, and his assertion that Clemens's side was responsible for the hearing taking place, was assailed last night by Clemens's lead attorney, Rusty Hardin, who said Waxman's statements were "unbelievable, disingenuous, and outrageous."

"He is the one who created this circus in the first place," Hardin said of Waxman, contending that Clemens and his lawyers had asked several weeks ago for the hearing to be called off, only to be rebuffed by Waxman's staff.

"We didn't think any good would come out of having a food fight with the accuser," Hardin said of McNamee. But once the depositions were taken last week, he said, the Clemens side felt it had no choice but to proceed, fearing that the committee would use the depositions to produce a hostile written report. "We wanted this out in the open," Hardin said.

Meanwhile, Waxman said he had not made a decision as to whether Clemens would be referred to the Department of Justice for investigation into possible perjury charges.

Bonds typo fallout

A typo in court papers regarding Barry Bonds filed late yesterday by federal prosecutors touched off a brief tempest over the mistaken belief that he failed a drug test in November 2001, one month after breaking the home run record for a season.

In fact, the government meant to reference a previously reported November 2000 failed drug test that was included in the indictment unsealed last year, US attorney spokesman Josh Eaton said.

The mistake prompted a flurry of erroneous reports on television and websites around the country.

The filing amounted to federal prosecutors defending their questioning of Bonds before a grand jury, and urging a judge to keep the slugger's perjury prosecution on track.

Bonds had argued that the questions posed to him by prosecutors were ambiguous and confusing. He demanded that the five-count indictment charging him with lying to a grand jury be tossed out. Bonds has pleaded not guilty.

In the filing, prosecutors said Bonds was specifically told before he began testifying in 2003 that he could consult with his lawyers or ask for a question rephrased if he ever got confused.

"Bonds never said he was confused or asked the prosecutor to rephrase a question," the government's filing stated.

Martínez takes aim

Pedro Martínez knows his place in the Steroids Era. "I dominated that era and I did it clean," the former Red Sox ace said from Mets training camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla. "I can stand by my numbers and I can be proud of them." The three-time Cy Young Award winner said he hasn't paid much attention to the fallout from the Mitchell Report but would welcome a more stringent drug-testing program in baseball. "I wish that they would check every day," said Martínez . . . Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said he doesn't expect to have any talks with AL Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia until the 2008 season is over. The Indians recently offered Sabathia, who is eligible for free agency after the season, a four-year extension believed to be worth $17 million to $18 million per year.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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