Brian McNamee, the government’s star witness in the Roger Clemens perjury retrial, took the stand Monday and testified about the first time he injected the pitcher with steroids.
WASHINGTON — Speaking softly, nervously and in detail, Brian McNamee testified about the life-changing moment when, he said, he first gave Roger Clemens a "booty shot" of steroids.
The government's star witness in the Clemens perjury retrial took the stand Monday and told the jury that he injected one of baseball's most successful pitchers with steroids about eight to 10 times when they were with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998.
"I knew what I was doing was illegal," McNamee said. "I wish to God I could take it back."
Clemens is charged with lying to Congress when he testified in 2008 that he had never used steroids or human growth hormone. The first attempt to try him last July ended in a mistrial when prosecutors showed the jury a snippet of videotaped evidence that had been ruled inadmissible.
The retrial took until its fifth week to get to the heart of the government's case: McNamee is the only person who will claim firsthand knowledge of Clemens using performance-enhancing drugs.
In his thick New York accent, McNamee covered a lot of ground in about four hours on the stand — and he still has much more to tell when he returns Tuesday. He recalled how he met Clemens when McNamee was the strength and conditioning coach of the Blue Jays during the 1998 season. He said Clemens gave him a $1,000 tip at the end of spring training, that Clemens approached him one day in the clubhouse and asked him to get rid of a bag of some 20 to 30 bottles of steroids.
Then came the fateful day in June when he was asked by Clemens to come to Clemens' apartment in the Blue Jays' Skydome stadium after a game.
McNamee said he found alcohol, needle and gauze and the anabolic steroid Winstrol laid out in the bathroom. He said he felt "a little uncomfortable" while preparing the shot because he'd never done anything like it before. He said he then walked into Clemens' bedroom.
"Roger pulled down his pants, exposing his right buttocks cheek to me," McNamee said. A few seconds later, Clemens said he was ready. McNamee said he then "plunged the fluid in into his buttocks."
After it was done, they "exchanged pleasantries," according to McNamee.
"That," McNamee concluded softly, "was the first time I injected Roger Clemens."
McNamee said he didn't feel good about the moment, but he got the sense that Clemens "wasn't good at doing the 'booty shot.'"
"I did it," McNamee said, "because I wanted to help and I wanted to keep my player safe. ... I wasn't under the assumption that was the first time he did that."
McNamee recited details of another injection later in the season, one he said he gave Clemens in a hurry in a small supply room in the Tampa Bay clubhouse on the getaway day of a road trip. McNamee was so concerned about being discovered that he pressed his foot against the closed door while giving the shot.
McNamee said the injections stopped after Clemens developed an abscess on his buttocks later in the season. He said Clemens walked by and "threw a whole bag (of steroids) at my locker and said, 'I'm done with it.'"
McNamee recalled some scenes meticulously; other times he was more vague. He occasionally fidgeted with his white shirt or tan jacket and sometimes took long pauses before answering questions. It took him a few seconds to recall his wedding date — perhaps understandable, given he's going through a divorce — and he initially said three months, instead of three years, when asked how long he worked for the New York Police Department before becoming a bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher for the New York Yankees in the mid-1990s.
McNamee was barely audible the first time he uttered the word "Roger." He and Clemens were once good friends; he worked with Clemens for the better part of a decade, in an official capacity with the Blue Jays and later with the Yankees, and also as a personal trainer who would run Clemens through demanding workouts, often at Clemens' home in Texas.
Clemens watched intently from the defense table, occasionally taking notes or reading materials.
When McNamee returns to the stand Tuesday, he's expected to testify that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs in 2000 and 2001. The prosecution is also expected to head off, as best it can, an upcoming cross-examination that is expected to attack McNamee's integrity. The defense wants to paint McNamee as a serial liar out for personal gain.
The two sides spent the morning arguing over which parts of McNamee's personal life can be revealed in front of the jury. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton quashed a Clemens subpoena for McNamee's divorce records, saying it was a "fishing expedition" to look for information to disparage McNamee.
The judge did rule that Clemens' team could bring up evidence of McNamee's alleged alcohol problems, including two convictions for driving under the influence. Walton also said that if the defense had evidence that McNamee had obtained prescription drugs online without a prescription, that too could be mentioned.
But the judge said again that defense lawyers may not mention that McNamee was investigated for an alleged sexual assault over a 2001 incident at a St. Petersburg, Fla., hotel involving a woman who was found to have a date rape drug in her system. Walton said the defense could refer to it only as a "serious criminal investigation." The defense will be able to say that McNamee lied to investigators during that investigation. Charges were never filed in the case.
The day began with the government winning a significant battle about the testimony of former Clemens teammate Andy Pettitte.
Pettitte testified about a conversation 12 years ago in which Clemens supposedly admitted to using HGH — but then acknowledged under cross-examination there was a "50-50" chance he might have misunderstood Clemens' remark. The defense wanted the judge to strike Pettitte's testimony about the conversation, but Walton ruled that it will be up to the jury to decide how much weight to give it.
MLB fires arbitrator from Braun case
NEW YORK — Major League Baseball management has fired Shyam Das, the arbitrator who overturned Ryan Braun’s drug suspension in February.
MLB informed Das and the players’ association of its decision last week. Das had been baseball’s permanent arbitrator since 1999, part of what technically is a three-man panel that also includes a representative of management and labor.
“Shyam is the longest-tenured panel chair in our bargaining relationship,” union head Michael Weiner said. “For 13 years, from the beginning to the end of his tenure, he served the parties with professionalism and distinction.”
Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement says the arbitrator can be removed by the players’ association or management at any time with written notice.
“I had the distinct privilege to serve as chair of the MLB-MLBPA arbitration panel for almost 13 years,” Das wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “I have the greatest respect for the representatives of both parties I worked with during that period, and I wish the parties well in their ongoing relationship.”
MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred declined comment, spokesman Pat Courtney said.
The sides will now try to select a successor. If they cannot agree, baseball’s collective bargaining agreement calls for them to ask the American Arbitration Association for a list of “prominent, professional arbitrators.” The sides would then alternate striking names from the list until one remains.
One of the first cases the new arbitrator could hear is a grievance over a 100-game suspension issued last week to San Francisco reliever Guillermo Mota. The pitcher’s agent, Adam Katz, said the positive test was caused by a banned substance contained in children’s cough medicine.
Das, a graduate of Harvard and Yale University Law School, also has been an arbitrator for the NFL since 2004 and is scheduled to hear a grievance in the New Orleans Saints bounty case on Wednesday.
The baseball situation, “does not impact his role at an arbitrator for our CBA,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
Following a grievance hearing, Das decided in February to overturn the 50-game suspension of Braun for a positive drug test. Lawyers for the Milwaukee outfielder, the reigning NL MVP, argued that the collection procedures specified in baseball’s drug agreement for the urine sample were not followed with Braun’s sample last Oct. 1 because it was not immediately left at a Federal Express office.
The collector testified that because the sample was taken on a Saturday and could not have been shipped that day to the testing laboratory outside Montreal, he concluded the sample would be more secure at his home. He then took it to a FedEx office on the following Monday.
Baseball’s drug agreement states that “absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected.”
Management loudly and publicly disagreed with his decision.
The sides asked Das to hold off on issuing a written decision while they negotiated changes to the drug agreement.
The 100-game suspension of Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo for a second positive test, announced last Sept. 14, was rescinded in an agreement between management and the union on Monday.
“Alfonzo’s grievance challenging his suspension raised issues that were nearly identical to those resolved in the arbitration involving Ryan Braun,” MLB said in a statement. “It is not anticipated that any other future cases will be impacted by the circumstances raised in the grievances of these two players.”
Under baseball’s drug agreement, grievances are heard before initial suspensions are announced. In the case of penalties for a second or third positive test, the cases are argued after the suspensions are made public.
Alfonzo was designated for assignment by the Rockies on May 7 and sent outright to Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League two days later.
Das took over as baseball’s permanent arbitrator from Cornell professor Dana Eischen, who was hired in December 1997 but quit after ruling the following May against J.D. Drew’s grievance seeking free agency.
Many of baseball’s grievance arbitrators have had brief tenures, with the list including Lewis Gill (1970-72), Gabriel Alexander (1972-74), Peter Seitz (1974-75), Alexander Porter (1977-79), Raymond Goetz (1979-83), Richard Bloch (1983-85), Thomas Roberts (1985-86), George Nicolau (1986-95), Nicholas Zumas (1995-97) and Eischen (1997-98).
Joseph Sickles heard one case in 1976, and temporary arbitrators were used between Eischen and Das.
Seitz was fired after he ruled against owners in the Andy Messersmith-Dave McNally reserve clause case that led to free agency. Roberts was fired after deciding management colluded against free agents between the 1985 and 1986 seasons.