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.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.