Amongst other revelations, Jeff Pealrman’s ‘The Rocket Who Fell To Earth’ includes charges that Roger Clemens lobbied Blue Jays management to fire Cito Gaston at the end of the 1997 season. Ensconced again as Toronto skipper, Gaston addressed the matter of Clemens with the media in Lakeland, FL today, with the Star’s Morgan Campbell in attendance.
“He’s an a—–e himself. A complete a—–e,” Gaston said with a chuckle. “And I’ll say that loud, right in his face. It was all about him. Ain’t about nobody else but him.”
For the next five minutes Gaston, who is starting his first full season in his second stint as Jays’ manager detailed the strained relationship with the star pitcher, who had signed with the Jays before the 1997 season after burning out with the Boston Red Sox.
Gaston praised Clemens for his work on the mound, saying the 354-game winner always gave his best effort on days he pitched, winning 41 games and two Cy Young Awards as the AL’s top pitcher in two seasons with the Blue Jays. But for the four days in between starts, Gaston said he couldn’t deal with the seven-time Cy Young Award winner.
“When he’s pitching, everyone’s in the dugout pulling for him, but when he’s not pitching he’s not in the dugout,” Gaston said. “I didn’t feel like he supported his teammates as much as he wanted support.”
Though Gaston said he didn’t know of anything specific Clemens did to get him fired, he said Clemens did flaunt his influence with the club’s upper management, even asking Gaston if he wanted to keep his job as manager or lose it.
He also challenged Gaston’s authority in front of the team, once questioning the manager’s refusal to pull Pat Hentgen from a game. Gaston says Clemens never brought those criticisms to his face, and he regrets not confronting him over it.
“He wouldn’t (confront me). One of us would have had an ass whuppin’ that day,” Gaston said. “It might have been me, but he still would have known I was there.”