Roger Clemens

Prosecutors: Clemens betrayed his friends

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Figure since I linked a piece on Rusty Hardin’s opening statement that I ought to do the same for the prosecution. They went yesterday afternoon. Their theory: Clemens was obsessed with his legacy. So much so that he was willing to betray friendships in order to preserve it:

The government — more than it did during its opening statement at Clemens’s mistrial last summer — also went heavy on its allegation that Clemens sought to save his reputation by sacrificing some of his closest relationships.

“It is the story of a betrayal of friendships,” Steven Durham, an assistant United States attorney, told the jury of 10 women and 6 men, including four alternates … Within minutes of starting to speak to the jury, the government showed jurors a photograph of Clemens with Andy Pettitte and their former trainer, Brian McNamee — two men who were once close to Clemens.

In the first trial the prosecutors played up some of that “athletes are arrogant and above the law” stuff, as did the prosecutors in the Barry Bonds case. It’s actually a pretty common theme in criminal cases involving athletes. “He’s always been spoiled, and he thinks he can get away with anything,” or words to that effect.

Different tack here. I think it’s a pretty decent one, as far as framing goes.  More human scale and relatable for the jury.  That arrogant athlete stuff isn’t as effective in my view because while it’s understandable, people still worship athletes even if they know better. It’s almost hard-wired. But someone betraying friends? That’s a lot easier to get your brain around.

Of course it’s all useless if the evidence isn’t there. But it’s interesting all the same.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.