Witness against Roger Clemens: "Who's Roger Clemens?"

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Yesterday we heard that the feds have subpoenaed a guy named Jeff Blair, who allegedly had the steroids goods on Roger Clemens. Last night, the guy said otherwise:

A former gym owner in the Houston area says he never supplied Roger
Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs and is looking forward to
meeting with a grand jury investigating whether Clemens lied to
Congress . . .

. . . Blair said Thursday night that he’s never met Clemens, any
members of the Clemens’ family or anyone representing Clemens,
including personal trainers or attorneys.

“I did not supply Roger Clemens (with) growth hormone,” Blair said.

Possibilities:

(a) The feds forgot that the purpose of subpoenaing witnesses to a grand jury is to obtain evidence that helps their case, rather than hurts their case;

(b) The feds knew that, but realized all along that they really
don’t have a case at all and simply don’t want the grand jury to feel
like it was convened for nothing; or

(c) This Blair guy was going to spill the beans on Clemens, but then
Clemens and his lawyer showed up in the back of the hearing room with
Blair’s long lost brother from Sicily — Godfather II-style — after
which Blair decided to trot out this “I never knew no godfather. I got
my own family, senator” business.

Though the Godfather fan in me hopes that the Pentangeli option is
really what happened, I’m leaning (b) here. Sure, as is the case with
Barry Bonds I personally I think that Clemens did steroids and lied
about it, but I also think that for several reasons a perjury
prosecution of these two guys is both difficult and ill-advised.

In neither case — Bonds before the grand jury or Clemens before
Congress — did you have prosecutors actually asking concise questions
with an aim at truly figuring out what these guys knew. To the
contrary, they were exercises in P.R., and because of that the
questions that were actually asked to these men and the facts the
questioners had at their disposal were lazy and weak.

Go read the transcripts: Bonds played dumber than a bag of hammers,
despite the fact that he’s actually a fairly bright guy. Clemens went
on and on about his life story whenever he was asked anything
difficult. Neither was given particularly difficult questions which
they were required to answer in an unambigious fashion. To the
contrary, each was allowed to talk openly and loosely for long
stretches at a time.

Which may very well establish that they were being evasive. In order
to make a case of perjury, however, showing evasiveness is not enough.
A witness needs to be nailed down. To be given hard and unambiguous
followup questions. Neither of these guys faced any of those things
during their day in the spotlight, and their answers can be spun and
qualified in many ways by their lawyers.

That’s a black mark against the prosecution, and in light of it I’d
be shocked if either Bonds or Clemens ever go to trial, let alone gets
convicted of perjury.

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.