Friday, July 15, 2011

Roger Clemens perjury trial begins

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Washington— Prosecutors said Wednesday needles and cotton balls Roger Clemens' former trainer says he used to inject the star pitcher tested positive for Clemens' DNA and anabolic steroids — evidence defense attorneys said was faked.
Assistant U.S. attorney Steven Durham revealed the results during opening arguments in Clemens' trial on charges of lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens' attorney Rusty Hardin responded he won't dispute the needles contain Clemens' DNA and steroids, but accused the trainer Brian McNamee of "mixing" it up.
"He manufactured this stuff," Hardin told jurors. "Roger Clemens' only crime was having the poor judgment to stay connected with Brian McNamee."
Hardin said steroids would have been so "incredibly inconsistent with his career and beliefs that there's no way he would have done it."
Clemens has said the only things McNamee ever injected him with were the common local anesthetic lidocaine for his joints and vitamin B-12 to ward off flu viruses and stay healthy.
But, Durham said neither substance was found on the needles or cotton swabbed with his blood.
Hardin told the jury the government is "horribly wrong" in charging his client with perjury, false statements and obstruction of Congress.
Clad in a dark suit, Clemens watched silently from the defense table with a clenched jaw.
"There was a rush to judgment on Roger that has made it impossible for him to be fairly heard until he got here," Hardin said in the federal courthouse just a couple blocks from the congressional hearing room where he testified three years ago.
Hardin showed the jury an enlarged photo of the country with all the sites where federal agents investigated the case.
"They still didn't find anything to connect him with steroids except Brian McNamee," Hardin said.
Durham, however, said about 45 witnesses, including several of Clemens' former teammates, will help make the case Clemens used banned substances.
Clemens denied the use under oath before a House panel in '08.
Brewers beef up bullpen
Milwaukee— With their trade for Francisco Rodriguez, the Brewers now can call on a pair of potential closers. And in a tense ninth-inning situation, it sounds as if either Rodriguez or John Axford could get the call.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said both Rodriguez and Axford, the team's current closer, will get chances to finish games as Milwaukee makes a push for the playoffs.
"We're not going to get involved with the roles at this time," Melvin said Wednesday. "When you're a championship club, you need to have everybody pulling together."
Melvin said he talked to Rodriguez and Axford in the wake of the trade with the Mets, which came together quickly Tuesday and was announced almost immediately after the All-Star Game. The Mets sent Rodriguez and cash to the Brewers for two players to be named.
Melvin told Axford (2.83 ERA, 23 saves) to "not get nervous" about the addition.
Melvin said he's confident both Rodriguez and Axford will be willing to adjust to less-defined roles, whether they're setting up, closing or sitting in the bullpen on any given night.
"There's three or four games every night that are lost in the seventh, eighth or ninth innings," Melvin said.
"And if you look at most of these ballclubs that win, and consider themselves teams that are going to be headed to championships or playoffs, they all have identifiable or recognizable guys pitching the eighth and the ninth."
The trade for Rodriguez is another indication the Brewers are built to make a playoff run this year. They added starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in the offseason, and Prince Fielder could leave as a free agent after this season.
Milwaukee is tied with St. Louis for first place in the National League Central.
All-Star ratings awful
Tuesday's All-Star Game — with all the dropouts and injury replacements — drew a record-low rating for the second straight year.
The National League's 5-1 victory on Fox earned a 6.9 rating and 12 share. That's down 8 percent from the 7.5/13 in 2010.
Before last year, the previous low was an 8.1/14 in 2005.
Cardinals keeping Garcia
The Cardinals solidified their rotation for the future, signing lefty Jaime Garcia to a four-year extension with club options for a fifth and sixth season. Reports say the four-year deal is worth $27.5 million.
He's 9-3 with a 3.23 ERA, a year after his solid rookie season (13-8, 2.70).
"Jaime is one the best young arms in baseball," GM John Mozeliak said.
Around the horn
Mark Prior , a Yankees right-hander and former phenom, is pitching after missing almost three months because of a strained groin.
Prior allowed an unearned run and one hit in two innings in the Gulf Coast League.
… The Marlins, last among all major league teams in home attendance, is closing the upper deck at Sun Life Stadium for the rest of the season.
… The Indians placed struggling starter Mitch Talbot (lower back strain) on the DL.


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