NEW YORK - Roger Clemens apologized yesterday for unspecified mistakes in his personal life but denied having an affair with a 15-year-old.
The New York Daily News reported last week that Clemens had a decade-long relationship with country star Mindy McCready that began when she was 15 and an aspiring singer. The newspaper also linked the star pitcher to former Manhattan bartender Angela Moyer and Paulette Dean Daly, a former wife of golfer John Daly.
"Even though these articles contain many false accusations and mistakes, I need to say that I have made mistakes in my personal life for which I am sorry," Clemens said in a statement issued by spokesman Patrick Dorton. "I have apologized to my family and apologize to my fans. Like everyone, I have flaws. I have sometimes made choices which have not been right."
Brian McNamee, Clemens's former trainer, accused the pitcher in December's Mitchell Report of using performance-enhancing drugs in 1998, 2000, and 2001, before players and owners agreed to ban them from baseball.
Clemens has since filed a defamation suit against McNamee; it is being contested in federal court in Houston. Clemens, a 354-game winner, repeatedly has denied using steroids and human growth hormone. The apology was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.
"I think what it says without saying it is that he apparently admits he cheated on his wife and family," said Richard Emery, one of McNamee's lawyers. "And if he cheated on them, I think it's reasonable to assume that he cheated his fans and baseball.
"I think this is all very probative of his behavior and his penchant for denying the truth, and it certainly will come into play in the defamation lawsuit. He certainly doesn't deserve to be compensated for loss of reputation when his reputation, to the extent he ever had it, of being a family man, was totally false and built on a house of cards, a tissue of lies, if you will."
Clemens tried to draw a distinction between McNamee's allegations and the Daily News reports.
"I believe my personal life has nothing to do with the accusations of steroid and HGH use," Clemens said. "I have already made clear that I did not use them. Now, I have been accused of having an improper relationship with a 15-year old girl. Nothing could be further from the truth. This relationship has been twisted and distorted far beyond reality. It is just one of many, many accusations that are utterly false.
"I realize that many people want me to simply confess and apologize for the conduct that I have been accused of, but I cannot confess to, nor apologize for, things I did not do. I have apologized to my family for my mistakes, and having offered this apology to the public, I would ask that you let me and my family deal with these matters in private."
Clemens's lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said last week he will talk with his client about whether to proceed with the defamation suit following the wave of unpleasant publicity.
"He's getting pummeled," Hardin said. "I've never seen somebody get beat up like this. In some ways, I think we're on uncharted ground."
The decision on whether to drop the suit rests with Clemens.
"That's always a decision the client has to make," Hardin said. "That's not the lawyer's decision."