Pettitte looks uncomfortable during testimony

751626.jpg

Pettitte looks uncomfortable during testimony

From Comcast SportsNet
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Andy Pettitte looked like he wanted to be anywhere but on the witness stand in the Roger Clemens perjury trial. During breaks Tuesday when the judge and lawyers haggled over legal procedures, Pettitte looked down or straight ahead, never in Clemens' direction. He rested his head in his palm, yawned, looked at his watch and sighed. A few times he rubbed his eyes for several seconds, looking like he couldn't wait for this to end. But Pettitte returns to the stand Wednesday, when Clemens' lawyers will continue to try to sow doubts about the key testimony that Pettitte provided for prosecutors: "Roger had mentioned to me that he had taken HGH." Clemens, who told Congress in 2008 that his friend and former Major League Baseball teammate "misremembers" the conversation, is accused of lying to Congress when he said he never took human growth hormone or steroids. The two men arrived at opposite ends of the courthouse a few minutes apart Wednesday morning, both in gray suits. Pettitte carried a backpack and a bottle of water. Clemens lawyer Michael Attanasio started the doubt campaign late Tuesday when he coaxed Pettitte into agreeing that Clemens' remark was a passing comment made during a workout. Attanasio also got Pettitte to praise Clemens' work ethic, mechanics and concentration -- not to mention the seven Cy Young awards he had won for his outstanding pitching. The cross-examination got to feel so much like a Clemens infomercial that prosecutor Steven Durham objected at one point. Pettitte is crucial to a government case that otherwise will rely heavily on the testimony of Brian McNamee, who worked as a strength coach for both Clemens and Pettitte and has said he injected both men with performance-enhancing substances. The government showed the jury photos of the three working out together in Texas during happier times -- "Mac, Roger and me," as Pettitte put it. Pettitte has acknowledged he received HGH from McNamee; Clemens has not. Pettitte told the jury about the time he used HGH in 2002 while recovering from an injury, but he wasn't allowed to say he was injected by McNamee because the judge earlier ruled that information inadmissible. Pettitte said he used HGH one other time, in 2004. He said he regretted it both times he tried it, that he doesn't think it helped him physically and that it has tarnished his name. "I wish I never would've" taken HGH, he said in his slow Texas drawl. "If I hadn't done it, I wouldn't be here today." Pettitte also recalled the other time he spoke with Clemens about HGH, during the media swirl surrounding earlier congressional hearings -- in 2005 -- on drug use in sports. Both were playing for the Houston Astros, and Pettitte asked Clemens at spring training what Clemens would say if asked by reporters about HGH use. Clemens responded, "What are you talking about?" according to Pettitte, and said Pettitte must have misunderstood the earlier conversation, said to have taken place in 1999 or 2000. "He said, My wife used it,'" Pettitte said. "Obviously I was a little flustered," Pettitte said, "because I thought that he told me that he did." Both Clemens and McNamee have said McNamee injected Debbie Clemens with HGH at the Clemens home in 2003, although they differ over certain details. Pettitte's appearance Tuesday came without warning. The government interrupted testimony from the trial's first witness to call Pettitte just before noon. Wearing a gray suit, white shirt and striped tie, he walked into court a day after allowing six runs and 10 hits with eight strikeouts over 5-23 innings in an extended spring training game in Clearwater, Fla., as part his comeback attempt at age 39 with the New York Yankees. Pettitte strode purposefully to the witness stand, but when he squeezed his 6-foot-5 frame into the seat, he looked out of place. He sat with hands clasped during most of his testimony. During prosecutor Durham's questioning, Pettitte described how he admired Clemens as a youngster and considered him a mentor when they played together for the Yankees and Astros. Pettitte said he still considered Clemens a good friend but hasn't been able to talk to him for a long time because of the case. He also said it was difficult to testify against his friend. But there was almost no interaction between the two large men Tuesday. About the only time Pettitte looked in Clemens' direction was when the prosecutor asked whether Clemens was in the courtroom, and Pettitte pointed to the man in the suit and "greenish tie." Clemens stood and nodded. For his part, Clemens took more notes than usual on his yellow legal pad. When trial recessed for the day, Pettitte walked out of the courtroom without looking toward Clemens. Pettitte signed an autograph in the hall, then quickly entered an office.

Quick Links

Nats weight home field advantage against staying healthy as playoffs near

Nats weight home field advantage against staying healthy as playoffs near

Though they’re still fighting for home field advantage in next week’s division series, the Nationals understand they’re in a strange part of their season.  

Sure, playoff seeding is plenty important. These last regular season games count, et cetera et cetera. But Washington already clinched the NL East title, and already knows its playoff opponent is going to be the Los Angeles Dodgers. So it’s not a surprise that players are willing to admit how difficult it can be to keep their foot on the gas pedal these days.

“Once you win the division, there’s that exhale, that sigh of relief,” said Jayson Werth after Friday night’s 7-4 loss to the Miami Marlins.”..You kind of let off the throttle a little bit.”

And when a team takes that approach, health becomes the top priority. It’s a mindset that was on full display Friday night when Werth was removed from the game in the seventh inning as a precaution due to back and side tightness.

 “We can't afford to lose anybody else,” manager Dusty Baker said. “So we decided that, it was wet, on the chilly side, and I decided I couldn't take a chance on him being injured too.”

Werth said that team trainers ruled out a strain or a pull, and that he’d be surprised if he wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday afternoon.  

Still, any injury the Nats suffer this time of the year feels magnified, especially given the last week: Bryce Harper jammed his left thumb, Wilson Ramos tore his ACL and Daniel Murphy was shut down until the playoffs with a glute strain. Not to mention that Stephen Strasburg will likely miss the club’s entire October run.

“The biggest thing is right now is to get everybody healthy for the postseason,” Stephen Drew said. “I think that's key. We got some guys out and hopefully we'll be ready for the playoffs.”

So while every team says it’d like to head into the postseason firing on all cylinders, the Nats’ case shows that it’s not always realistic. Bottling up momentum and carrying into the biggest games of the year is the ideal, of course. But sometimes heading into the tournament with all your horses in tact works too — seeding be damned.

“Obviously home field advantage is important to us, and we want that,” Werth said. “But at the same time, we also feel like we’ve done our job a little bit. So there’s a balance there.....you don’t want to do something where you can put yourself in jeopardy, where you can really get hurt.”

Quick Links

Orioles magic number reduced to 2 with win over Yankees

Orioles magic number reduced to 2 with win over Yankees

NEW YORK—In a dramatic week for the Orioles, this may have been the most difficult day. 

Seven days ago, the Orioles came off a four-game sweep by the Boston Red Sox that finished their hopes of an American League East championship, and since then they’ve won six of seven games and are within two games of their third trip to the postseason in the last five seasons. 

This day was challenging because of the persistent rain that fell throughout the game and continued during it. Major League Baseball was determined to play the game, and the Orioles simply ignored the foul weather and pulled off an 8-1 win on Friday night over the New York Yankees before a crowd announced at 33,955 at Yankee Stadium. 

The crowd was in fact thousands smaller than the announced figure, and the several thousand on hand braved game time temperatures of 56 degrees, wind and rain.

The conditions were deplorable. Rain fell throughout the day, but Major League Baseball was determined to play on Friday night, and the Orioles didn’t let the awful weather deter them as they moved a step closer to the postseason. 

With their 8-1 win over the New York Yankees before 33,955 at Yankee Stadium, the Orioles reduced their magic number to two for clinching a postseason spot. 

Toronto, which began the game tied with the Orioles (88-72) for the top wild-card spot, lost to Boston, giving the Orioles the top wild-card spot. Detroit, which beat Atlanta, is trailing by 1 ½ games.

“That’s about as tough as you ever want to play in,” manager Buck Showalter said. “That was tough, you really got to be ready to play.” 

Showalter claims not to do too much scoreboard watching. 

“Not much at all until I had no choice because it was right behind the pitcher’s head every time I looked out there. I caught a couple glimpses, but I don’t watch it that much. I really don’t. I watch our scoreboard a lot,” Showalter said. 

In the past several seasons, Yankee Stadium hasn’t been kind to the Orioles. They’d lost 11 straight series openers since their last win on Aug. 31, 2012. 

Yovani Gallardo bulled through the conditions, and allowed a run on two hits in six innings. 

“It was hard to grip the ball and that sort of thing, and slipping off the mound and whatever. It gets tough for everybody in the field, but my main focus was after we got the lead was get the guys to swing the bat, throw the ball over the plate,” Gallardo said. 

“The last thing you want to do is start walking guys and getting yourself into trouble. When I did, I was able to make some pitches.”

Gallardo (6-8) didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning when Brian McCann singled. Gary Sanchez scored when the next batter, Mark Teixeira hit a sacrifice fly to left. 

Aaron Hicks singled to start the fifth, but Gallardo didn’t allow another hit. 

The Orioles offense went to work and their eight runs were the most since Sept. 10. 

Jonathan Schoop equaled his career high with five RBIs, a two-run double in the fourth and a three-run homer, his 25th of the season, that capped a six-run fifth inning. 

Adam Jones hit his 29th home run to lead off the inning against Michael Pineda (6-12), and Mark Trumbo hit a two-run homer, his major league leading 47th to chase Pineda. 

“We got a power team, and everybody is capable of catching one. The power is just one thing. We pitch, we defend, and we prove that we score not only when we hit home runs. We score when we move the runner over, sac fly, everything. We're a really good team,” Schoop said. 

Gallardo, and Darren O’Day who pitched the eighth, are two players who could play pivotal roles if the Orioles get to the postseason. 

Gallardo isn’t certain of making the postseason roster, and O’Day, who has been hurt much of the year, delivered a spotless eighth inning. 

“That was good tonight, especially in those conditions. If we could get in, he’d be a nice piece for us to add that we’ve been missing. That was encouraging tonight,” Showalter said. 

NOTES: The Orioles are the 12th team in major league Trumbo’s 47th home run ties Chris Davis (2015) for the fourth most home runs in team history. … Wade Miley (9-13, 5.40) faces Luis Severino (3-8, 5.75) on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. The six runs in the fifth were the most the Orioles scored in the fifth inning this season. … The three home run inning was the Orioles’ 10th this season, most in the majors. … The Orioles became the fifth major league team to hit 250 home runs.