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Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lance Berkman talks about steroids

TRENTON — When the Mitchell Report came out in 2007, it contained the names of 89 documented abusers of performance-enhancing drugs. The names ranged from superstars like Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, to also-rans like F.P. Santangelo and Randy Velarde.

Fans’ reactions ranged from sadness to shock to anger. So many of their favorite players, whom they’d shelled out wallet-loads of money in a collapsing economy to see play, were cheating.

When Lance Berkman, who yesterday began a two-day rehab stint with the Thunder, saw the list, however, there weren’t many surprises.

“Let me say this, I don’t know anybody’s name that I heard (in the Mitchell Report) that I didn’t think so … in other words, I didn’t think anybody wasn’t using that came out,” Berkman said. “If your name was on that list, those were a lot of the guys I suspected myself when it started to all come out. There wasn’t anybody where I was like, ‘Oh man, I know he didn’t do it, so why is he on that list?’”

These comments come on the heels of the arraignment of Roger Clemens, a teammate of Berkman’s from 2004 until 2006, who is facing charges of lying to Congress while denying that he ever used steroids.

Because Clemens’ denials have been so prolific and impassioned, Berkman says, he is willing to extend the pitcher a certain amount of goodwill when it comes to passing judgment on his guilt or innocence. Even so, he says, that goodwill is by no means absolute.

“Roger’s a guy that has been vehement in his denial, and he’s a friend of mine, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until this thing kind of resolves itself,” he explained. “Because of that, if he was found guilty of doing whatever it is, it’s not like I’d be so surprised that I’d fall over and faint or something. But, by the same token, I’m willing to give him every benefit of the doubt.”

For current Yankees pitcher and borderline Hall of Famer Andy Pettitte, who also shared a clubhouse with Clemens, the courtesy extends a little further. He doesn’t agree with Pettitte’s action, but because it wasn’t prolonged and was allegedly done with the sole intent of speeding his recovery time, he understands.

“Andy (Pettitte) and I are as good as friends as you can possibly be. He’s probably my best friend,” Berkman said. “I was surprised, but once I found out more about the reasoning behind it … obviously, I can say this, but nobody will buy into it: There’s a difference between taking steroids for the purpose of enhancing your performance; taking a cycle — and what Andy did, which was take HGH, that’s a different deal for the purpose of trying to come back from an injury.”

The major difference between Clemens and Pettitte, of course, is that Pettitte was willing to fess up to his wrongdoing while Clemens has maintained his innocence for the last three years and is willing to risk time in a federal prison to keep his name in the clear.

It’s that unflagging honesty on the part of the left-hander that has earned him Berkman’s trust and respect and in his eyes, it’s what sets him apart from guys like Barry Bonds and others who have gone out of their way to be deceptive in the face of controversy.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the way the situation is handled. It speaks to Andy’s character that he was willing to say he made a mistake. Here’s what I did, let me completely honest about this to the detriment of me and my friends and family and let me be honest and above board about this.

“Most people feel like Barry and some of the other guys are hiding something and they’re unwilling to admit to any wrongdoing at all and they’re hiding behind lawyers and it’s just shenanigans. People can see through that, and I think they don’t appreciate it. That’s why they may give a different reaction for Andy than you would for other guys.”

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