TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Andy Pettitte repeated his apologies over and over again, saying he had embarrassed himself and set a terrible example.
Whether he upset Roger Clemens is anyone's guess. They haven't spoken in more than a month.
``Obviously it's put a strain, I think, on our friendship,'' Pettitte said Monday.
On the day he reported to spring training with the New York Yankees, Pettitte spent nearly an hour explaining why he used human growth hormone and his role in corroborating HGH allegations against Clemens.
``I felt like I need to come out, be forward with this,'' Pettitte said. ``Whatever circumstances or repercussions come with it, I'll take and I'll take like a man and I'll try to do my job.''
Other baseball players have ducked tough questions about allegations of drug use, using evasions and nonspecific replies. Pettitte admitted his mistakes and several times patiently asked reporters ``did I answer your question?''
Wearing a polo shirt and jeans, and flanked by manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman, Pettitte had a hint of the shadow on his face that he's shown on the mound during so many postseason games. He seemed nervous at the start as he read from notes.
``I want to apologize to the New York Yankees' and to the Houston Astros' organizations and to their fans and to all my teammates and to all of baseball fans for the embarrassment I have caused them,'' he said. ``I also want to tell anyone that is an Andy Pettitte fan I am sorry, especially any kids that might look up to me.''
He relaxed after a few minutes and went into far greater detail than most accused athletes have about their transgressions.
Off to his right, sitting in a row, were Yankees teammates Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. When it was over Jeter and Pettitte wrapped their arms around in each other in a hug.
``I know that once I have this press conference and talk to everybody about this and share everything with you, I think the truth will set you free,'' Pettitte said. ``I think I'm going to be able to sleep a lot better at night once all this gets by.''
Brian McNamee, the former personal trainer to Pettitte and Clemens, said in December's Mitchell Report that Pettitte used HGH in 2002 while with the Yankees. Pettitte confirmed McNamee's account two days later in a statement.
In a deposition and an affidavit to a congressional committee two weeks ago, Pettitte said he injected himself with HGH for one day in 2004 while with the Astros after obtaining two syringes from his father.
``I am sorry for not telling the whole truth in my original statement,'' Pettitte said. ``I never wanted to bring my dad into a situation like this. This was between me and him, and no one else. I testified about my dad in part because I felt in my heart I had to, but mainly because he urged me to tell the truth, even if it hurt him.''
Clemens denied claims by McNamee that he used steroids and HGH from 1998-01, and all three were among those called to give depositions to a congressional committee. Pettitte was excused from testifying alongside Clemens and McNamee at last week's hearing and said he didn't even watch.
Given permission to report four days after other pitchers on the team, Pettitte threw 35 pitches during a bullpen session at the minor league complex before the news conference.
He acknowledged he had considered not playing because of the ongoing situation.
``I would be lying if I said that didn't cross my mind, not over the last couple of days, because I was, you know, fully committed to this team and to the organization.,'' he said.
Pettitte said there were no other times he used performance-enhancing drugs.
``That's it. There are no other surprises out there,'' he said. ``That's all there is and anything that would come up would be definitely false allegations.''
The 35-year-old lefty with 201 regular-season wins and four World Series championship rings said he did not feel as if his accomplishments were tainted. He said he used HGH only because he thought it might help his elbow heal.
``From the bottom of my heart I know why I did this. I didn't do it to try to get an edge on anyone. I didn't do it to try to get stronger or faster or throw harder. I did it because I was that it might be able to help me,'' he said.
HGH wasn't banned by baseball until January 2005, so Pettitte does not appear to be at risk of a suspension. Pettitte said he would not have taken HGH had it been banned at the time.
``I know why I was doing this. Was it stupid? Yeah, it was stupid. Was I desperate? Yeah, I was probably desperate,'' he said. ``I wish I never would have done it, obviously, but I don't consider myself a cheater, no.''
Pettitte told Congress that Clemens had discussed nearly a decade ago using HGH. In addition, Pettitte testified McNamee, the former personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte, had spoken in 2003 or 2004 about steroids use by Clemens.
Clemens claims Pettitte ``misremembers.''
``I think Roger knows how I feel about him. He know that that I've admired him and that I continue to admire him,'' Pettitte said. ``He's been a great friend to me and spent an awful lot of time with him. And I love him like a brother. The situation was a horrible situation. Mac's an extremely good friend of mine, also.''

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