The Washington Times - February 18, 2008, 05:17PM

\ With each new day in spring training, another chapter in the steroid era saga opens up.\


\ Yesterday it was Andy Pettitte‘s turn to stand up, reporting for training with the New York Yankees in Tampa, and he did just that — stand up. Pettitte’s meeting with the media only enhanced his position as sympathetic figure — something that didn’t happen when Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca met with the media here in Viera.\

\ “I felt like I needed to come out and face you guys and whatever circumstances that come I’ll take it,” said Pettitte, who was named in the Mitchell report as an HGH user and also testified before Congressional investigators about Roger Clemens admittance to using performance-enhancing substances. “I’ll take it like a man and I’ll try to do my job.”\

\ Normally, this would pretty much be the end of it. Pettitte did such a mea culpa that there would be no need to pursue it further. But he will probably have to tell his story again to law enforcement investigators looking to see if Clemens lied when he testified before Congress last week that he never took steroids or HGH and that Pettitte, his former teammate and friend, has “misremembered.” And he will likely have to appear in court sometime if a perjury case is brought against Clemens.\

\ This is a never-ending story, despite the fatigue in the game over steroid news. Nationals manager Manny Acta, speaking about Lo Duca, said he was tired of hearing and talking about steroids in baseball. “There is a little dark cloud on the game, okay, but there are so many good things going on in this game right now,” Acta said. “I am in a division where instead of me hearing every single day about two or three guys who were in trouble for this, I really want to talk about Zimmerman, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, David Wright, Carlos Beltran. That’s a lot of positive going on in the game, and I would rather talk about and enjoy those guys rather than going over the same thing over and over again.”\

\ Baseball fans will have to live with all of it — the good, bad and the ugly of the game, because steroids in baseball will be a topic of debate on the front burner for a long time. The Clemens saga is far from over. Then you have the Barry Bonds perjury trial that could start earlier this year. There will be more Brian McNamee’s, trainers spilling their guts in the future, and also players, after they leave the game, coming clean for a variety of reasons. Each one will reopen these wounds to the game.\

\ And consider this — neither Clemens, Bonds or Sammy Sosa has a job yet this year in baseball, and it is unlikely any of them will play this season. If this is it for their careers, after five years of retirement, all three will come up for a vote as the same time for the Baseball Hall of Fame. That may set a whole new standard for ugly.\

\ Photo by Julie Jacobson / Associated Press