The Clemens trial resumes, featuring … Roger Clemens

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After five days off, the Roger Clemens trial resumed today with the prosecution calling its first witness.  He’s Phil Barnett, who was the staffer for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which led the steroids hearings/depositions at which Clemens is accused of lying.

Smart witness to call first in my view. Because what’s the number one comment anyone around here has when this topic comes up?  Yep: “why is the government wasting its time on this?”  Since we all ask that all the time, you can bet the jury is asking it too, and if they don’t have that answered for them at the outset, they’re going to discount everything the prosecution says with an underlying “so what?” even if it doesn’t matter, legally speaking, if the hearings were a good idea.

That’s not to say that this witness will necessarily convince anyone on the jury that there was a legit reason for the hearings. But it’s certainly worth a shot to try, because if the prosecution can’t get early buy-in that this all matters, they’re gonna have a bad time.

Also this morning: Roger Clemens testimony.  No, not live. He’s not taking the stand I wouldn’t imagine. But they are playing his taped deposition testimony from early 2008.  In it he explicitly says he didn’t take any drugs at all. No wiggle room with “to my knowledge” or “that I recall” or any of that.

Which makes this all the starker a choice for the jury:  believe Brian McNamee, and Clemens is toast. Don’t believe him, and he’s gonna skate.

Finally, if you’re a junkie about this stuff, I highly recommend that you give T.J. Quinn’s Twitter feed a follow. The ESPN writer is at the trial, basically live-tweeting it.  I’ll warn you, though: it’s VERY thorough, so you’ll want to steer clear unless you want frequent updates.

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.