Rusty Hardin

Roger Clemens’ legal strategy: claim that Brian McNamee framed him

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This may be something Clemens and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, floated some time ago. But the case, in one form or another, has been going on for over four years now, and I sort of lose track of these things.

In any event, during opening statements this morning, Hardin explained what his story is going to be about how Roger Clemens’ DNA got mixed up with all of those delicious steroids on the syringe that Brian McNamee kept in a used soda can for years:

Roger Clemens’ defense lawyer tells jurors that evidence purportedly showing the pitcher used steroids was manipulated by his former strength coach, Brian McNamee.

Rusty Hardin said in his opening statement Tuesday at Clemens’ perjury trial that evidence collected by McNamee was a “mixed up hodgepodge of garbage.”

Hardin says his team will contend that McNamee mixed steroids with Clemens’ DNA into a needle to frame the star pitcher. Hardin said that McNamee had used the needle to inject Clemens with vitamin B-12.

Hardin is playing defense, of course, so he doesn’t have to prove that McNamee doctored the evidence. He just has to introduce the possibility to jurors and have them believe that it is at least reasonable.  And given that McNamee has some pretty serious credibility problems, it shouldn’t be as hard to spin this tale with him as it might be with a different witness.

Still: one of the first things they teach you as a trial lawyer is that if you promise big in an opening statement, you had better deliver or else the jury won’t believe anything else you say.  So Hardin had better beat the living hell out of McNamee at trial, or else his opening statement is going to look like nothing but empty promises and baloney.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.