Peavy supports Clemens, Bonds
San Diego right-hander on Rocket: 'I've got his back'
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Padres right-hander Jake Peavy said on Saturday that he's saddened by the plight of Roger Clemens and equally as chagrined at the charges that Barry Bonds is facing."I fully support him," Peavy said about Clemens in particular. "He's my buddy, and anybody that knows me knows that I've got his back. That's just part of being a buddy. I know it wouldn't be any different if the shoe was on the other foot." About Bonds, Peavy added, "I've always had a great relationship with Barry. I don't know what the truth is about these guys and I don't really care. These guys are my buddies before anything else. Friendship is friendship. You treat people the way you want to be treated and I certainly have a respect for Barry Bonds. I enjoyed the heck out of competing against him. I truly believe that during the years he was at the top of his game, he was the best to have ever played the game of baseball." Clemens and Bonds -- both once-certain Hall of Famers -- may be the face of Major League Baseball's steroid era, which was documented in part late last year when former Sen. George Mitchell issued his much-anticipated report. Clemens, the biggest new name to emerge from the document, is being investigated by the FBI and IRS for possible perjury charges stemming out of his testimony about using performance-enhancing drugs last month before a Congressional committee. Bonds is currently facing four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice in a San Francisco federal court for allegedly lying in testimony given to a grand jury nearly five years ago, regarding his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds pleaded not guilty last Dec. 7 on all the charges. Both players, currently unsigned free agents, have vehemently denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens could leave the game as the active leader in wins (354) and No. 2 behind Nolan Ryan on the all-time strikeout list (4,672). Bonds, who is still seeking a job, holds Major League Baseball's record for most homers all-time (762) and most in a single season (73 in 2001).
The statements by Peavy, last year's National League Cy Young Award winner, are germane because of his relationship with the two stars. Peavy was a teammate of Clemens on the 2004 MLB All-Star team that toured Japan and again two years later on Team USA, which was knocked out of the inaugural World Baseball Classic in the second round."Roger was a big influence on my career," said Peavy, 26 now, but just a 22-year-old when he played with Clemens in Japan. "In '04, I had won the ERA title and I thought that was something cool and special. It was something being with him for a three-week period. He'd just laugh at me and tell me, 'You're young and I know you're just trying to establish yourself.' And this was coming from a guy who had won seven Cy Youngs. He's just been a great friend and a great mentor." Bonds hit his 700th homer off Peavy near the end of the 2004 season and may have had the last at-bat of his career against him in the sixth inning this past Sept. 26 at San Francisco's AT&T Park. Peavy served a fastball to Bonds and the lefty-swinging slugger nearly homered, driving the ball to the fence just to the right of center, where so many of his long balls had gone out. When Bonds jogged back across the infield from first base to the Giants' third-base side dugout, he pointed at Peavy and thanked him for the gesture. Bonds left the game at that point to a standing ovation, nursing a severely bruised right toe. Peavy says now that it was the least he could do.
"Obviously, everyone in the ballpark knew that was going to be Barry's last at-bat," Peavy recalled. "Me and Barry being buddies, I wanted to take care of him in his old ballpark. I wanted to give him as good a send-off as he could have. That being said, I couldn't throw cookies up there all night because we had to win. But we were able to get a 9-2 lead, and I'm facing Barry knowing this was going to be his last at-bat."At that point, I knew we were going to win that game and he knew I was going to give him a good pitch to hit. He didn't have to guess what was coming: a fastball. He took a good shot at it and just missed it. We had a good little exchange there. We would've done that whether it had been on the field or not. But he wanted the fans to be a part of us paying our respect to each other." Peavy, of course, has become a formative force himself in the years since Clemens took him under his wing. Last season, he was the NL's pitching Triple Crown winner, leading the league with a 19-6 record, 240 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA. In short order, Peavy then won his first Cy Young, Bonds was indicted on Nov. 15 and Clemens was singled out on Dec. 13 in the Mitchell Report. Peavy said it was a double-dose of somber reality after the thrill of earning his first major piece of hardware. "I'm just saddened by it," Peavy said. "I don't know the truth of the matter. I don't know what's going on. First and foremost, we're talking about stuff that happened seven, eight years ago. It's just continually shedding a bad light day after day on baseball when I wish the focus would be more on today's game and how clean it is. I got drug tested at least five times last year. It seems like every other week you're getting a drug test. "I wish there was more talk about that than there is about them. To see a buddy like Roger have to go through something like this, it's aggravating. I know he's a great person, a great individual. And he's being very good to me and my family."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.