Why DNA evidence doesn't sink Clemens

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In response to my post regarding the problems the prosecution may have convicting Clemens, reader Anthony E. emailed me and basically asked why does anyone care about McNamee’s credibility if the feds have DNA evidence related to Clemens and PEDs (which they do).

Good question! And, as I noted over a year ago, it actually renders the McNamee credibility thing more problematic for prosecutors, not less.

You’ll recall that the blood and DNA evidence came from drug paraphernalia.  You’ll also recall that the drug paraphernalia came from . . . Brian McNamee. Who had kept it. In his house. For years.  This is a bit of a problem.

Sure, it would be better for Clemens if PEDs and his blood weren’t found on those syringes, but you don’t have to be a lawyer to be familiar with the concept of chain of custody. As in, what happened to those syringes in between the time McNamee allegedly injected Clemens and the time — years later — he turned them over to federal investigators.

Clemens’ defense lawyers will be able to attack the reliability of this evidence on the basis
that it wasn’t preserved properly and was always at risk of
contamination. They’ll be able to establish that Brian McNamee had access to PEDs. They’ll be able to establish that Brian McNamee had
access to Clemens blood via the vitamin shots or whatever Clemens says
McNamee gave him. They’ll be able to establish that Brian
McNamee’s apartment is no lab and, if I had to guess, probably looks
like the kind of place in which you used to wake up still drunk and
covered in beer cans and pizza boxes when you were in college.  Most importantly, they’ll be able — as I said earlier today — that Brian McNamee is a demonstrated liar, thereby discounting any explanation he has for what happened to this evidence over the years.  As he must for it to be admissible.

In other words, any presumption that the syringe evidence is pure and
true would be pretty hard to take. This is especially true in a world
where half of the potential jurors watch CSI three times a week and thus
have elevated expectations as to the quality of forensic evidence.

Again: this doesn’t mean that Clemens is going to skate. But it does mean that the presence of DNA evidence may not be nearly as damning in this case as it is in other criminal prosecutions.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.