If you think (a) the Bonds trial couldn’t get any more cringe-worthy; and (b) I couldn’t find a way to make a second post about Barry Bonds’ testicles today, well, you’re quite mistaken.
After a couple of witnesses took the stand this morning, the jury was cleared and Bonds’ lawyers told the judge that Kimberly Bell — Bonds’ ex-girlfriend — testified about Bonds’ testicle shrinkage differently yesterday than she did before the grand jury. Back in 2003, Bonds’ lawyers say, Bell said Bonds’ testicles shrunk by 50%. Yesterday she said that they had shrunk, but not by as much.
The issue here is that Bonds’ lawyers are accusing the prosecution of withholding critical information. Specifically, that a key witnesses testimony was going to be different in front of the grand jury than it was at trial. While this doesn’t seem like a major deal on the surface — the less specificity we hear about Bonds’ testicles the better — the judge said this concerned her during the back-and-forth a few minutes ago. If the defense knew that Bell would present a moving target, it may have changed their entire case theme. And it would have made cross-examination of her a fundamentally different deal than the on-the-fly way it was dealt with yesterday.
The court is in recess at the moment, but it would not be at all shocking if at some point — maybe even after the break — the defense moved for a mistrial on the grounds that evidence was withheld. I’d be surprised if the motion was granted. There are ways to remedy this short of that, such as striking Bell’s testimony and/or making some sort of statement about it to the jury. But either way, it’s a serious issue and, even in the likely event that the case goes on, it could be damaging to the prosecution and could be a potentially major appeal issue for an appeals court that has been fairly pro-Bonds in previous rulings.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.
According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.
It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.
Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.
Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.
Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.
The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.