Barry Bonds

Other ballplayers players to testify against Barry Bonds

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The judge in the Barry Bonds case is going to allow other ballplayers who worked with Greg Anderson to testify, with the idea that if they knew what they were taking, Bonds probably did too:

In a ruling filed Monday, Illston wrote that the athlete witnesses would provide evidence that “is relevant to the question of guilt or innocence in this case.” Prosecutors say those witnesses will testify that Anderson gave them performance-enhancing drugs, told them how to use those drugs and explained the efficacy of those substances. At the trial, the prosecutors plan to argue that Bonds, like Anderson’s other clients, was “not unwittingly duped into taking steroids.”

I tend to think that’s somewhat problematic in a guilt-by-association sense, but it’s coming in now and the cumulative effect of Anderson clients saying that they knew what as going down is going to be pretty bad for Bonds.  That is, unless the prosecution actually calls Benito Santiago, who testified thusly:

Santiago was asked, “Did he ever tell you that the things he was giving you were steroids or had steroidlike effects?” He answered no.

He was then asked: “So, I’m sorry I have to ask, you injected those items into your body, but didn’t know exactly what they were. Is that correct?”

He answered, “Believe it or not.”

Indeed, Bonds’ lawyers say that six of the seven ballplayers the prosecution is going to call testified at the grand jury that Anderson never specifically told them he was giving them steroids.

That said, we don’t have the totality of their testimony, so it’s hard to say what to think of this. It’s silly to think that the prosecution would fight hard to get these dudes on the stand if they truly said they were ignorant. It may be that Bonds’ lawyers are cherry-picking here and that the entirety of their testimony shows them to be hip to what was going down (“no, he never told me it was steroids, but I wasn’t born yesterday …”).  Obviously if these guys were saying exactly what Barry Bonds is saying, Bonds’ lawyers wouldn’t have tried to bar them from testifying.

I think the most interesting thing about all of this, however — and about the Clemens trial too — is the ballplayer vs. ballplayer dynamic. Hearing ballplayers talk one gets the sense that they would rather die than to throw another ballplayer under the bus, even if they hate the other ballplayer. Now they have little choice. I bet they make for some of the more nervous and uncomfortable witnesses around.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.