FREEPORT, N.Y. – Brian McNamee spent two hours in a batting cage Friday night, tinkering with the swings of Anthony Aueletta and Matthew Piccione.
A former strength coach with the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, and former personal trainer to Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and other major leaguers, McNamee tutored the pair of 14-year-old New Yorkers at Baseball Plus, an indoor sports facility on Long Island.
"Tonight I was supposed to have five people," McNamee said. "I tried to get 10. I only had two."
The former New York Police Department officer wore an "NYPD" cap, a baseball jersey and sweatpants. He seemed to enjoy himself. It was rewarding mentally, if not financially.
"I need to work. I don't have a job," he said. "I'll just try to give free clinics so I can maybe get some clients. I didn't get paid tonight."
McNamee has been famous for just over three years. When the Mitchell Report came out in December 2007, it revealed that under the threat of federal prosecution McNamee had implicated Clemens in the use of steroids and human growth hormone and also said Pettitte used HGH. In February 2008, McNamee repeated his accusations in testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Clemens made his denials under oath.
Clemens was indicted last summer and is scheduled for trial in June on two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of Congress, and McNamee is expected to be the government's star witness. McNamee's civil suit accusing Clemens of defamation won't go to trial until after the criminal case.
McNamee says it's been impossible to earn a living since the allegations against Clemens became public.
"I'm always willing to work and talk and speak and lecture," he said. "It's hard for me to be able to do that because of the things that I'm associated with. On any given day, I'm in the paper. Do you want to hire me? Would you hire me, even though I'm the greatest at what I do, to bring bad publicity or negative publicity?"
Piccione wasn't concerned about any of that. With McNamee's tips, he was just trying to get his bunts down and line some ropes — when McNamee's pitches didn't sail over his head.
He's known McNamee since he was 6 or 7, played Little League baseball with McNamee's son.
"I learned a lot from him," Piccione said. "He really got me started catching and interested in baseball when I was younger. So he's really helped me through the years."
McNamee said instructing teenagers is no different from working with big leaguers.
"I could sit here for three hours and teach kids a million things abut baseball. I worked with the best coaches, the best players in the game. I definitely have a pedigree, have a resume," he said. "You'd be amazed. The kids are smarter today. You have to be careful to what you say because they're very adherent, they're very intuitive. You have to keep it simple."
McNamee has contributed a chapter to a new book on weight training, "How a Champion is Made" by Steve Cardillo and Mac Zappulla.
"I talk about supplementation, steroids, how they're really a shortcut," McNamee said. "It's usually taken by people that didn't put in the hard work that they should have put in."
His work with the two boys dealt with baseball drills, not conditioning. Piccione said McNamee has helped him with running and cardio fitness.
"I'm too young to lift weights and stuff," he said.
McNamee shies away from discussing Clemens, citing a gag order. When he says something about the seven-time Cy Young Award winner, he quickly tells the three scribbling reporters to "strike that."
He said Pettitte's decision last week to retire didn't surprise him but he wishes Pettitte had decided to play one more season to win another championship. He's saddened that he hasn't been able to speak with Pettitte, whom he considers a friend.
Pettitte said in a statement to the congressional committee three years ago that Clemens had told him a decade earlier that he had used HGH. Clemens said then: "I think he misremembers."
McNamee seemed to be referring to Pettitte when he said: "In my opinion, I think things have come out to light and things are looking better for me."
He hopes to work with the team at Archbishop Molloy High, where he once went to school. He hopes his life will be a little more stable. For a while, media was camped outside his home.
"That's why I moved four times in the last two years," he said.
But he knows his name will keep on being brought up in baseball discussions, especially as the time approaches when Clemens becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013.
"I'm part of history, so I think it's going to continue to come. Good, bad or I don't really know," he said.
And he's not shy about discussing his attributes.
"You can't take away that paper that I've got on the wall," he said. "I have a lot of paper — paper meaning degrees, certifications, licenses. You can't take that way from somebody. Plus, I'm a pretty good player."