The New York Yankees’ general manager told jurors in the perjury trial of retired pitcher Roger Clemens that the seven-time Cy Young Award winner pushed for the hiring of his former trainer after performing poorly in a playoff game against the Boston Red Sox in 1999.
Brian Cashman, who testified as a witness for the government today in federal court in Washington, described a conversation he had with Clemens in Fenway Park in Boston, where Clemens left the field with a leg injury after just two innings.
“He was down,” Cashman said. “He was frustrated.”
Clemens “asked if we’d strongly consider” hiring his former strength coach from the Toronto Blue Jays, Brian McNamee, “so something like this wouldn’t be happening,” Cashman said. Clemens told him that McNamee knew his body and how to train him, Cashman said.
McNamee was hired a few months later as the Yankee’s assistant strength coach at a $30,000 annual salary as a “favor” to Clemens, Cashman said.
“Would you have hired him?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham asked.
“No,” Cashman responded, adding that the Yankees already had a strength coach. Cashman said the hiring occurred after he met with George Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ owner at the time. Steinbrenner died in 2010 at age 80.
Clemens, 49, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury. He faces as long as 21 months in prison if convicted.
Clemens, who pitched for the Yankees, Red Sox, Houston Astros and Blue Jays during a 24-year career, used anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH, to remain competitive as he aged, Durham told jurors in his opening statement.
The drugs were injected into him by McNamee, who worked with Clemens for 10 years, Durham said. The evidence includes a needle and cotton balls containing Clemens’s DNA that tested positive for anabolic steroids kept by McNamee in a Miller Lite beer can, he said.
McNamee is scheduled to testify next week.
Cashman, 44, told jurors about his own rise from Yankees intern in 1986 to the team’s highest-ranking administrative post a dozen years later. He described Clemens as one of the hardest- working baseball players he’s ever met and said he personally sought to bring the pitcher to the Yankees in 1999.
“I thought the biggest thing the New York Yankees could utilize was someone like Roger Clemens, because he was determined to win,” Cashman said. “He would make sure we kept that competitive drive going. I thought that would counter our 125-win team, as I worried about complacency moving forward.”
Cashman said he first met McNamee in 1994, when the former New York City police officer was working for the Yankees as a batting-practice pitcher and so-called bullpen catcher. McNamee was let go from that post after the 1995 season because Joe Torre, who was hired as manager, wanted his godson for the job, Cashman said.
When McNamee returned to the team as assistant strength coach in 2000, he became popular with players because Clemens ‘picked him so that gave instant credibility to him,’’ Cashman said.
The team’s doctors and trainers, though, complained that McNamee was “not respecting the boundaries of his position” and “bleeding” too much into their jobs, Cashman said. Only team doctors were allowed to inject players with approved substances, he said.
Clemens told Congress in 2008 that the injections he received from McNamee were for lidocaine and vitamin B12. Prosecutors argue that trainers such as McNamee didn’t have the authority to give injections.
Cashman said he wasn’t aware that trainers were giving B12 shots to players until he looked into the claim following a report on steroids use in Major League Baseball by U.S. Senator George Mitchell in 2007.
“B12 shots were given and not reflected in the trainers’ reports,” Cashman said under questioning from Clemens’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin.
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