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Bonds prosecution now playing from behind

SAN FRANCISCO — Over two weeks, prosecutors methodically worked to build a credible case that Barry Bonds lied to a federal grand jury in 2003 when he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Then, on Thursday, prosecutors called Bonds' orthopedic surgeon to the stand. They regretted it almost immediately.

Legal analysts, trial watchers, even attorneys on both sides all seemed to agree that Dr. Arthur Ting's testimony crippled the government's case against the most-productive home-run hitter in major-league history. The question is whether the prosecutors can still get a conviction when the trial goes to the jury, which could happen this week.

Ting directly and repeatedly contradicted the government's star witness, former Bonds business partner Steve Hoskins.

In the first week of the trial, Hoskins testified that doctor told him a 1999 elbow injury Bonds sustained was caused by steroid use. But Ting denied saying that. Ting also denied Hoskins' claim that the two had 50 conversations about Bonds' alleged steroid use. Ting denied having even one such discussion.

Federal prosecutor Jeffrey Nedrow conceded, in an exchange with U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, that Hoskins was "impeached heavily."

Ting was one of the last witnesses the government planned to call. Observers said prosecutors were making good headway with the jury until then.

"With any trial it's always the last impression that is the most important," said Robert Mintz, a prominent Newark, N.J., defense attorney.

"It was the sports equivalent off coughing up the ball on the 5-yard line. Suddenly, the other team has a chance to win."

FAN VIOLENCE: City leaders from Los Angeles and San Francisco condemned violence among sports fans after an opening-day attack at Dodger Stadium left a Giants fan in a medically induced coma. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, police chiefs and team owners from both cities called the attack on 42-year-old Bryan Stow "unconscionable."

Snowout: The game between the Rockies and Diamondbacks was postponed because of a mix of rain and snow in Denver. The teams played in an unseasonably warm 84 degrees the day before.

BRAVES: RHP Jair Jurrjens went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle. LHP Mike Minor was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.

BREWERS: RHP Zack Greinke took part in an aggressive throwing session for the second straight day and could throw off a mound this week. Greinke missed most of spring training with a cracked left rib.

CARDINALS: LF Matt Holliday was at Busch Stadium two days after having an appendectomy, but the timetable for his return is still unknown. Manager Tony La Russa said the team would have "a better answer to that" today.

INDIANS: The attendance of 8,726 was the lowest for a game at Progressive Field, which opened in 1994. It was 1,127 fewer than the low set Saturday. … Minor-league OF Preston Mattingly, son of Dodgers manager and former Yankees star Don Mattingly, was released.

MARINERS: Closer David Aardsma, who is coming back from offseason surgery on his left hip, felt no pain after a strong bullpen session and appears on target to return this month.

ORIOLES: RHP Justin Duchscherer had a minor operation on his lower back and won't pick up a baseball for four or five days. The ablation procedure is designed to heat up nerve endings and drive away pain.

PHILLIES: CF Shane Victorino, who left Saturday's game with tightness in his left calf, expects to return to the lineup Tuesday.

PIRATES: CF Andrew McCutchen was scratched because of a stiff neck.

TIGERS: RF Magglio Ordonez sat out because of soreness in his surgically repaired right ankle.

Bonds prosecution now playing from behind 04/03/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 3, 2011 11:19pm]

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