NEW YORK (AP) — Joe Torre believes pitcher Roger Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame even though the seven-time Cy Young Award winner has been connected to performance-enhancing drugs.
Torre said Clemens was like a son to him before the former Yankees manager took part in Old-Timers' Day at the new Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
"I can't make other people look at him. I can just tell you the way I feel," Torre said. "I was proud to have him play for me. He always gave you everything he had and I always respected that."
Clemens played six seasons in New York for Torre, helping the Yankees win two World Series championships in 1999 and 2000. But the 354-game winner was linked to performance-enhancing drugs in 2007, when he was mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Clemens then vehemently disavowed any link to steroids and human growth hormone at a nationally televised hearing in 2008.
He was recently acquitted on all six counts that he lied to Congress during that 2008 session, and talk has turned to whether the acquittal will boost his chances to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
This winter Clemens will make his first appearance on the ballot along with Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa — two other stars connected to steroids.
Torre, now MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations, acknowledged that when evaluating Clemens' career there will always be questions about his ties to performance-enhancing drugs.
"It's sad for me," Torre said, "because Roger Clemens in the way he went about his business — and I disliked him like everybody else until I got a chance to know him — he was a great teammate for these guys and he was very devoted to the team he was playing on and I always respected that."