KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Roger Clemens was a no-show when Houston Astros minor leaguers went through their usual drills at spring training on Friday. The Rocket flew home to Houston instead of working with the young prospects for a third straight day, said his oldest son, Koby, a catcher in the Astros' system.
Clemens departed the day after the FBI said it opened an investigation into whether he lied in sworn testimony about steroids.
Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane said Friday he will honor Clemens' 10-year personal services contract despite the FBI's decision. McLane said that reports that he was reconsidering Clemens' contract because of his legal issues were "overstated."
"All the legal troubles, does that jeopardize this?" he said. "My answer was, 'I don't know where that's going. We'll just have to wait and evaluate what happens.' But I don't see anything that's occurred right now that would jeopardize his contract. That's what was overstated."
Clemens' contract begins after he retires. He threw batting practice to minor leaguers on Wednesday and Thursday, but McLane said he did it voluntarily and did not get paid. The Astros said earlier in the week that Clemens also planned to work with the minor leaguers on Friday.
Koby Clemens said his father wanted to fly home to attend a baseball tournament in which his younger brothers were participating. Koby said Roger will return to Florida, but he did not know when, and added that his mother and three brothers also will come.
On Thursday, the FBI said it took over the Clemens case after Congress asked the Justice Department to look into Clemens' testimony at a Feb. 5 deposition and a Feb. 13 hearing. Clemens could face charges of perjury, making false statements or obstruction of justice. McLane said he was not familiar enough with the wording in the contract to know how an indictment might affect Clemens' agreement.
"I'm just dealing in the present of where we are today," McLane said. "I don't know where this will lead. I don't know how this fits into the contract. There is no doubt, we will honor the contract. We're not looking for any reason to back out of the contract. I think Roger, long term, can be an asset to the Houston Astros."
McLane planned to meet Saturday with general manager Ed Wade and president of baseball operations Tal Smith to evaluate whether they want Clemens to continue to help with their minor leaguers. Reporters and photographers have followed Clemens' every move since he started working out with players Wednesday.
McLane expressed concern that Clemens' presence was proving a distraction.
"Not necessarily a bad thing. It creates a lot of attention," McLane said. "There are good points and bad points. Roger, in the 16 years I've been involved with the Houston Astros, he's the most charismatic person I've ever seen. Just his presence changes everything."
Despite the media surge this week, Koby said he and his teammates enjoyed having his father at their practices.
"It's nothing but positivity and great stuff. He brings so much to the table," Koby said. "Everybody loves it and he's so much fun when he gets out there. Everybody kind of has a little bit of fun and jokes around. It was good to have him out here."
McLane said he last met with Clemens and his agents, Alan and Randy Hendricks, after the release of the Mitchell Report.
"Roger is a good person," McLane said. "I met with him back in December and he said, 'I clearly don't want to be a distraction.' He genuinely means that."
Koby said his father hasn't seemed preoccupied with his ongoing legal issues.
"Besides some of the new stuff that they've talked about, it's pretty much died down," Koby said. "We're thinking spring training baseball and trying to get positive for that."