Phil Garner, former Clemens teammates are testifying for the defense

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As the Roger Clemens case drags on, the defense is trying to dazzle the jury with star power!  Well, Phil Garner, Charlie O’Brien and other Clemens teammates anyway:

Roger Clemens lost something off his fastball in his 40s but still succeeded by pitching smarter, his former manager testified today.

“He continued to have great success, but for different reasons,” said defense witness Phil Garner, who managed Clemens with the Houston Astros from 2004-2006. “He didn’t just overpower teams; he outsmarted teams … He wasn’t as domineering as he was earlier.”

Scrap Iron went on to rave about Clemens’ work habits and drive and all of that.  Yesterday former Clemens catchers Charlie O’Brien and Darrin Fletcher testified. Here’s O’Brien:

“I don’t think he’d cheat,” said former journeyman catcher Charlie O’Brien, who caught Clemens’ games for much of the 1997 season with the Toronto Blue Jays. O’Brien portrayed Clemens as such a stickler that he’d refuse to throw scuffed baseballs because he considered it cheating.

Two things:

(1) How DARE they call the former personal catcher of the great Greg Maddux — and the inventor of the hockey-style catcher’s mask — a “journeyman catcher.”  He is a genius and a saint and shall ever be thus; and

(2) Even if he is a genius and a saint, dude ought to be prosecuted for perjury right now for saying that Clemens refused to throw a scuffed baseball.  Because that’s crazy. Not saying he scuffed them, but if a scuffed one was inadvertently returned to him rather than be replaced by a fresh ball, I would bet my children’s lives on him or any other pitcher throwing the thing.

Fletcher’s testimony sounded almost fanboy-esque. He did say that Clemens would purse his lips on the mound when he wanted to throw a curveball. Which is a new one to me. I guess the death stares and game-rage he usually displayed were him asking to throw the heat and the splitter.

Anyway, at least the trial sounds more interesting than it was before. Because, you know, Phil Garner and those guys.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.