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.

Reds ink Oliver Perez to a minor-league deal

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The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.

Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.

While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.