WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An ex-Major League Baseball player testified on Tuesday that he saw former pitching ace Roger Clemens being injected with a vitamin, as Clemens’ defense sought to undermine prosecution claims he received performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens, 49, is on trial for a second time on federal charges of lying in 2008 to the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform when he denied having used performance-enhancing drugs. The committee was investigating drug use in Major League Baseball.
The core of the government’s case against the seven-time winner of the Cy Young Award for best pitcher has been testimony from his former trainer Brian McNamee, who says he personally injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.
Clemens has said McNamee injected him instead with shots of a liquid form of vitamin B-12, used to help ward off sickness, and the anesthetic lidocaine.
Mike Boddicker, a former pitcher who played with Clemens on the Boston Red Sox, testified that he walked in on Clemens getting a shot in the buttocks of vitamin B-12 from a trainer in either 1989 or 1990.
Prosecutors previously tried to debunk Clemens’ claims that he received shots of the vitamin, not drugs, with testimony from an ex-Yankees trainer that the vitamin was kept under lock and key and that McNamee, Clemens’ strength and conditioning coach while he played for the Yankees, would not have had authority to give injections of it.
Boddicker said trainers at the Boston Red Sox administered shots of the vitamin.
“It was pretty commonplace for trainers to give shots back then,” he said.
Boddicker, who also played for the Baltimore Orioles, said he believed he witnessed Clemens receiving a vitamin B-12 injection because a vial with the label for the vitamin was on the table next to Clemens, and the trainer asked if Boddicker also wanted a shot.
BOLSTERING CLEMENS’ DEFENSE
In other testimony, Joe Angel, a broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles, said he saw Clemens at a golf course on the day of a 1998 pool party at the Florida home of Jose Canseco, a Toronto Blue Jays teammate of Clemens and an admitted steroid user.
Prosecutors charge that Clemens lied to Congress when he testified in 2008 that he did not attend the party.
McNamee has said he saw Canseco and Clemens together at the party and that Canseco gave McNamee steroid needles to take back to Toronto. An earlier prosecution witness also said he posed with Clemens at the party for a photograph.
Prosecutors have sought to link Clemens to syringes and cotton balls and other medical waste that McNamee says came from an injection of performance-enhancing drugs in 2001.
Clemens’ lawyers in response have tried to prove that the former pitcher’s stunning late-career success was the product of hard work and smart pitching, not performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens won his seventh Cy Young Award in 2004 - the summer he turned 42 - in his first season with the Houston Astros, after ending the season with an impressive 2.98 earned run average.
Rohan Baichu, a former Yankees massage therapist and another defense witness, testified he did not notice changes in Clemens’ body in the several years he gave him deep tissue massages.
Clemens’ attorney Rusty Hardin has argued that if Clemens had used steroids he would have shown some possible side effects such as acne, weight gain or enlarged breasts, or “man boobs,” Hardin said.
Hardin said the defense team could rest their case on Friday, allowing jury deliberations to begin next week.
Judge Reggie Walton has voiced concern about the slow pace of the trial, which is in its eighth week. Proceedings began on April 16.
Three jurors have been dismissed, two for sleeping and another for a death in the family. One more plans to travel to Germany on June 19, the judge said on Tuesday.
Clemens’ first trial ended last year in a mistrial.
Reporting By Lily Kuo; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Eric Walsh