Barry Bonds

Bonds Trial Update: A charge is dismissed and the defense rests without calling a single witness

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The evidence portion of the Bonds trial is over.

The prosecution rested yesterday, and this morning prosecutors dropped one of the charges: the one about whether Greg Anderson induced him “to take anything before the 2003 season.”  Prosecutors had been of the view that the charge could mean that Bonds took any kind of steroid before 2003. The Judge made it clear, however, that the charge properly referred to whether Bonds used the cream and the clear prior to 2003, and there was no evidence in the record about that at all.  The judge would have dismissed the count on the defense’s motion, but the prosecutors preempted that.

With that it was the defense’s turn. And they called … no one. Which is actually pretty common in criminal trials, and not terribly surprising here. The prosecution did a good job of rebutting large portions of their own case. The one big problem for Bonds — Kathy Hoskins’ testimony that she saw Anderson inject Bonds with something — is pretty much unrebuttable. At least unless Bonds wanted to take the stand himself and say that she didn’t see what she thought she saw.  Which would constitute the biggest bit of malpractice in living memory.

The defense has rested. The jury has been sent home for the day. Closing arguments will begin tomorrow.  As it stands, my best guess is that Bonds is convicted on the “did Anderson ever inject you with anything” charge and acquitted on the “did you knowingly take steroids” questions and everything else.  If the jury was sufficiently angered or confused by the prosecution’s disorganization, they could just acquit him on everything — I’ve seen it happen — but that would seem to be contrary to the evidence on the injection charge.

But hey, therein lies the beauty and terror of the jury system: you never know what they’re thinking until after they’re done doing that voodoo they do.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.