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.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.