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.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.