Mariano Rivera is backing Andy Pettitte.
After completing his $45 million, three-year contract with the New York Yankees yesterday, Rivera said he was impressed with Pettitte for admitting that he used human growth hormone after his name was included in the Mitchell Report.
"The thing that I admire is that he came out and said he did it," Rivera said on a conference call.
Rivera was surprised to hear Pettitte was included last week in the report with Roger Clemens and several other players on the Yankees teams that won four World Series titles from 1996-2000.
Pettitte later said he used HGH while he was on the disabled list during the 2002 season.
"It was definitely the wrong thing to do," Rivera said.
The Yankees' career saves leader said he spoke with Pettitte after the report was released and understood why the lefthander chose to try HGH.
Pettitte said he was trying to hurry his recovery from an elbow injury and help his team.
"I might have done the same thing. Who knows?" Rivera said.
But the 38-year-old Rivera also said he had "no idea" any of his teammates were using performance-enhancing drugs and that he was too "naive" to know what HGH was.
Rivera insisted that the Yankees' legacy was safe even though 11 players from their championship run were included in the Mitchell Report.
"I don't think that we have to defend anything," Rivera said. "Those years were hard work and a lot of dedication. The whole team was involved [in winning], not just two guys."
Rivera also said Pettitte wouldn't have a problem with the fans when he takes the mound next year.
"I would think that he would be received normal," Rivera said. "Everybody makes mistakes."
Unwelcome visitor?Roger Clemens might not be welcome as a speaker at a convention of Texas high school baseball coaches, whose association is having second thoughts about inviting Clemens to its annual session next month following allegations in the Mitchell Report that the seven-time Cy Young Award winner used steroids.
Jim Long, president of the association, said his group plans on holding an executive meeting today, during which it hopes to speak with Clemens, to decide if the Texas icon will remain as one of the presenters in Waco. Clemens had been scheduled for the last eight months to talk about pitching and "what he did on a daily basis that kept him in shape," Long said.
Long was adamant that the association was not jumping to conclusions or being pressured to retract its invitation to Clemens. "We're not saying anything negative about Clemens," he said. "He's been a great supporter of our association."