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Clemens v. friend central in trial

One crucial notion setting Roger Clemens' case apart from other drug scandals involving baseball stars is that his former close friend and loyal teammate Andy Pettitte, a man Clemens considered his little brother, could be the most damaging witness against him.

Pettitte, whose boy-next-door demeanor endeared him to Yankees fans as he pitched in seven World Series for them, admitted in 2007 that he used human growth hormone in 2002 and '04 to treat injuries. At Clemens' federal perjury trial that begins today in Washington with jury selection, Pettitte is expected to give powerful testimony that could help the prosecution establish that Clemens also used the drug, according to legal experts.

Among the former players on the prosecution's witness list, he is the only one expected to testify that Clemens acknowledged using performance-enhancing substances.

"I can't imagine what he's going through, knowing he will have to sit there and testify with his best friend right there at the defense table," said former Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi, who testified about his own steroid use when he was a government witness in March at the federal perjury trial of Barry Bonds, who was convicted of obstruction of justice.

Clemens, one of the greatest pitchers in history, is charged with perjury, making false statements and obstructing Congress for testifying at a House hearing in 2008 that he never used performance-enhancing drugs. If convicted, Clemens could face a sentence of 21 months in prison.

Neither Pettitte nor Clemens, who was in court Tuesday for a hearing about his trial, responded to interview requests made through their lawyers.

In lieu of testifying in front of Congress, Pettitte submitted a sworn affidavit describing what he claimed Clemens had said to him about his drug use. So what Pettitte will say on the witness stand might not come as a surprise. Rather, it will be the fact that he is saying it in a courtroom, sitting several feet from Clemens, that will probably produce a dramatic scene.

Meanwhile, Newsday reported that U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who is presiding over the trial, says he is leaning toward not allowing Pettitte and two other former Yankee teammates to testify. Prosecutors also plan to call Chuck Knoblauch and Mike Stanton as witnesses.

Around the league

cameron traded: The Red Sox traded outfielder Mike Cameron to the Marlins on Tuesday, less than a week after cutting the three-time Gold Glove winner.

Boston sent Cameron, 38, and cash to Florida for either a player to be named or cash.

Cameron hit .149 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 33 games for Boston this season. The Red Sox designated him for assignment Thursday.

Cameron has about $3.5 million left on a two-year, $15.5 million contract he signed as a free agent before last season.

Also, Red Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis was held out with a bruised back muscle after being hit by a pitch there Monday.

PUJOLS BACK: Albert Pujols is more than just one of the best players in baseball. He's also an incredibly rapid healer.

As expected, the Cardinals activated their three-time NL MVP off the 15-day disabled list, a month ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken left wrist.

Pujols didn't play Tuesday against the Reds. Manager Tony La Russa had pregame plans to use him in some capacity but didn't. Still, he said he expected Pujols to be in the lineup today.

CUBS: With Carlos Zambrano (sore back) going on the disabled list, the team brought up Ramon Ortiz from Triple-A Iowa to start Tuesday against the Nationals.

PHILLIES: A hand specialist diagnosed CF Shane Victorino as having a grade-one sprain of his right thumb. Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock didn't rule out placing him on the disabled list.

YANKEES: Closer Mariano Rivera (sore triceps) missed his second straight game. Rivera, 41, said he hopes to return for today's series finale against Cleveland.

HOME RUN DERBY: Brewers slugger Prince Fielder selected teammate Rickie Weeks, Los Angeles' Matt Kemp and St. Louis' Matt Holliday to represent the National League in Monday's All-Star Home Run Derby. The AL lineup includes 2010 derby champ David Ortiz of the Red Sox, teammate Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano of New York and Jose Bautista of Toronto.

OBITUARY: Former Red Sox shortstop Don Buddin died June 30 in Olanta, S.C. at age 77. He also played for the Houston Colt 45s and the Tigers.

Clemens v. friend central in trial 07/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 1:22am]

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