Barry Bonds

The Barry Bonds trial starts with a snore

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I asked NBC if they’d send me to San Francisco to cover the Barry Bonds trial, live and in person. They were receptive until I started in with my accommodation demands, my per diem demands and stuff like that. Look, I may have overplayed my hand, but in my defense, I don’t get to go to San Francisco very often and if someone else is going to pay my way, I’m totally going to demand the best.

Wait. I probably shouldn’t have said that out loud. Now they’re not even going to listen to me when I ask to cover the Roger Clemens trial this summer. Oh well.

Anyway, if you’re into play-by-play live-tweeting of the trial, so far Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle appears to be your huckleberry. She had the highlights of the prosecutor’s opening statement on her Twitter feed this morning and will presumably keep it up.

Opening statements aren’t evidence and one can read too much into them, but so far it seems like the lead prosecutor is making the same mistake most lawyers make: going on WAY too long and thinking that the jury is as interested in how clever and eloquent a guy he thinks he is.  Knapp says it was 30 minutes — 30 minutes! — before the prosecutor said that Bonds lied to the grand jury.  Before that he gave what Knapp says is “a dull steroids tutorial” using the actual scientific names for various substances. Gripping!

I don’t claim to be an awesome trial lawyer myself, but I worked with (and was destroyed in court by) a number of them. And the first thing those men and women did was to tell the jury what the case was about. In simple terms. And to not get hung up on minutiae and jargon if it can be at all avoided. Which, in the opening arguments of a perjury trial, seems like it would be easy to do. Thirty minutes before mentioning that this is a perjury case? My word, if you can’t do an opening in this case — an entire opening — in less than 30 minutes what good are ya?

Oh well. Maybe things will pick up for them. Federal agent Jeff Novitzky testifies today, so that should be fun. He has made his whole career out of busting athletes, so those of you who are interested in this from the “wow, how wasteful this all is” angle should probably pay attention, because there will surely be outrage fodder for you.

Masahiro Tanaka can’t say for sure if he’ll be ready by Opening Day

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka said today that he “can’t say for sure” whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

Tanaka underwent arthroscopic surgery in late November to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October and, while healthy, may be behind other pitchers.

Tanaka posted a 3.51 ERA and a 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season. He also has a partially torn UCL he’s been pitching through for some time which is always something the Yankees have on their mind when it comes to schedules and workouts for their ace.

Denard Span, not Angel Pagan, will be Giants’ center fielder and leadoff hitter

Denard Span
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Making official what was assumed when the Giants signed Denard Span to a three-year, $31 million contract last month, manager Bruce Bochy announced that Span will start in center field and bat leadoff.

That means 34-year-old Angel Pagan, who’s been the Giants’ starting center fielder and primary leadoff hitter for the past four seasons, will slide to left field and bat further down in the lineup. About a month before the Span signing Bochy said Pagan would remain in the center fielder/leadoff role, but the situation obviously changed.

It’s a move that makes sense, because Span–if healthy following hip surgery–is a superior defensive center fielder with better on-base skills. And if Pagan doesn’t bounce back following a rough 2015 season then having him in left field will make it easier for the Giants to platoon him or bench him in favor of, say, Gregor Blanco or a bigger bat.

Pitchers to receive new visor-like protective headgear

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MLB/MLBPA
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For the past few years MLB, the MLBPA and cap and helmet manufacturers have been working on various models of protective headgear for pitchers. Some of the models have been unworkable, some of them have not met the satisfaction of pitchers and others have, well, looked a little odd. At present the only pitcher who routinely wears any headgear is Alex Torres, who wears the bulky isoBLOX helmet.

Now, however, there is a new option. And, as you can see above it’s a bit different than what we’ve seen before. It’s more or less like a visor, which will have a nylon top on them to give a full cap-like appearance. The ear flaps will be lefty and righty-specific, given that righties are more likely to be hit on the right and lefties on the left given their follow-throughs.

The new caps will be given out to players this spring and, like the old ones, will be used or not used at the choice of the players. You can read more about the new helmet at ESPN’s Outside the Lines report.

Brewers sign reliever Blaine Boyer

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Right-hander Blaine Boyer, who spent last season with the Twins, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Brewers that includes an invitation to spring training.

Boyer was also on a minor-league deal last spring when he snagged a spot in the Twins’ season-opening bullpen and he stayed there all year, posting a 2.49 ERA in 65 innings. His secondary numbers weren’t quite so impressive, particularly his managing just 33 strikeouts compared to 19 walks, but the 34-year-old journeyman is a decent middle relief option.

Boyer has a 4.22 career ERA, including a 2.91 ERA in 105 innings since returning from injuries in 2014.