Judge issues gag order (finally!) in Clemens case

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According to the Associated Press, the judge on the Roger Clemens perjury case has issued a gag order prohibiting “public comments by the principles in the case.”

It’s about time.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton is worried that lawyers (that means you Rusty Hardin) and potential witnesses (and you Brian McNamee) could affect the jury pool by spouting off to the media. After all, it would be a shame to spend all this time putting a trial together and then not be able to find any acceptable jurors, because there are some people out there who don’t know anything about Roger Clemens and his alleged steroid use, right?

“Further action in violation of this admonition will be confronted of the full authority of the Court,” Walton wrote in the order that covers “the parties, any potential witnesses, and counsel for those parties and witnesses.”

Clearly this judge, who presided over the “Scooter” Libby trial, means business.

So since we won’t be receiving anymore great quotes from Hardin, Clemens and the gang, here are a few of the most recent comments from key figures to keep you occupied until the trial starts:

Clemens: “We’re going to deal with it, guys, I don’t really know what else to say. We’re going to deal with it and have our day.”

Hardin: “The government made a recommendation [for a plea agreement] and we declined. I will tell you the recommendation they made was a very good one if he was guilty. And if he was guilty we would have jumped on it.”

Jose Canseco: “There’s got to be better ways to spend taxpayer money.”

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Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉