Saturday, March 1, 2003

Yankees amused by Wells' book

The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal News

CLEARWATER, Fla. - He ran his mouth; then ran away. David Wells, who calls himself a stand-up guy, evidently doesn't plan to abide by the "Accountability" sign prominently posted inside the New York Yankees' clubhouse.

Wells, with no shortage of things to say for over 400 pages in his autobiography, Perfect I'm Not! Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball, - including rips of teammates Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina - was quite the clam Friday after his meeting with general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Torre.

Attempting to be cute, Wells responded to questions about the meeting with baseball cliches of how he pitched - two runs in two innings - in a washed-out exhibition against Philadelphia.

Wells walked away after three questions, which wasn't surprising, because everybody knew any clarification or apology, or backing down in any way would muffle the cash registers.

There was, however, no muffling the laughter in the Yankees' clubhouse earlier, especially from Clemens and Mussina, who, amused by it all, repeated the stock "Boomer is Boomer," line in the same tone a parent says about a spoiled child seeking attention.

"Now, who could've written a book here?" Clemens said. "We're quoting the book, is that what we're doing today? He said he pitched a game when he was hammered - and you're shocked?"

It was obvious Clemens was going to have fun with this, just as Mussina, who initially said he wasn't going to talk, then spent a half-hour reading excerpts and adding his commentary.

"I call him Ely," said Clemens, who with an exaggerated Texas drawl, added, "because if a story goes over 30 seconds, he's lying."

A reporter started reading to Clemens.

"And, of course, there's the Rocket. Once and for all, let me go on record as saying I don't have a problem with Roger Clemens," Wells wrote. "Was I happy when he came to town and I ended up north of the border? Of course not, but that doesn't mean I ever made him the focus of my anger."

The smirk on Clemens' face grew into a grin when Wells changed tone. Clemens knew the punch line was coming.

"And, while in the past I haven't always agreed with his behavior on the field - trust me, if I were Mike Piazza, that broken bat would still be shoved up Roger's (butt) - we are teammates."

Clemens just laughed; any other response would sell more books.

"That's Boomer," Clemens said, then after a pause added, "Boomer is fun, isn't he? That's a nice thought. I'll put that right behind when he was out there hammered."

What bothered Clemens was Wells' statement that up to 40 percent of the players are on steroids.

"It's hard to make those statements," Clemens said. "It's good we tried to clean it up, if that stuff is happening. I enjoy taking supplements. You have to take the right supplements. If you find out something is harmful, take something else."

Catcher Jorge Posada said he has "no reason to believe," Wells pitched his perfect game half-drunk.

Mussina, of whom Wells wrote they "don't always see eye to eye," just had fun. He flipped through the book and stopped at a picture of a bare-chested Wells on page 65 and read a passage about his training habits: "Surf, eat, party, sleep - repeat."

Mussina later found a picture of a rail-thin Wells pitching in a high school game and said, "that was before page 65."

Then there was the photo taken of Wells in New Zealand - standing naked in a field.

"Oh, geez," said Mussina. "Beautiful, just beautiful."

About 20 minutes later, after Clemens had his eyeful, Derek Jeter and Posada were thumbing through the copy when Mussina came around the corner and asked, "Who has the book? I have to show this to (Steve) Karsay."

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