McNamee testifies in Clemens trial

McNamee testifies in Clemens trial

McNamee testifies in Clemens trial
WASHINGTON -- Brian McNamee, who sat at the same table as Roger Clemens while testifying before a Congressional committee in 2008, took the witness stand Monday with Clemens seated at the defendant's table in a federal courtroom.

With the start of his much-anticipated testimony, McNamee became the focus of Clemens' trial on federal charges of perjury, giving false statements and obstruction of Congress, being held at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Actually, McNamee has been a central figure in the trial from the very beginning, but now his presence is a lot more real to a jury that will decide the former pitching star's fate.

Now, McNamee is physically within a few feet of the jurors, telling his account of injecting Clemens with steroids and human-growth hormone on numerous occasions. The first time, McNamee testified, was when Clemens asked him to come to his hotel suite at SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) and give him a "booty shot" of steroids when both were employed by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998. McNamee said Clemens dropped his pants, exposed his right buttock and he injected Clemens with the steroid Stanozolol.

"It was a little uncomfortable. I had never done that before," said McNamee, who testified that Clemens had the steroid and a syringe with an intramuscular needle on it ready for use in a bathroom of the three-room hotel suite the pitcher called home while in Toronto and, at times, shared with McNamee, who then was the strength and conditioning coach for the Blue Jays.

McNamee added he knew the gravity of what he was doing, injecting a star pitcher with steroids. "I don't think you forget that, ever," McNamee said. But he said he didn't realize the consequences or really concern himself with them. "I did it because I wanted to help," McNamee said.

McNamee, who later served as Clemens' personal strength and conditioning trainer up to the pitcher's final season with the Yankees in 2007, testified before Congress that he also injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs in 2000 and '01 while both were with the Yankees. He surely will say so again as his direct testimony under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler continues Tuesday morning.

Once defense attorney Rusty Hardin gets his turn with his cross-examination of McNamee, which could come as soon as Tuesday after the government completes its direct examination, there will be more about McNamee's story, his life and his personality on display for the jury. The defense has made it clear it will attempt to show that, as they've said already in their opening statement, McNamee is a liar with myriad personal problems that provided motivation for him to falsely accuse Clemens.

Clemens is not charged with using performance-enhancing substances, but rather for lying to Congress during a Feb. 13, 2008, hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and a Feb. 5, 2008, deposition conducted by committee staff members. Clemens is charged with three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of Congress made up of 15 different alleged obstructive acts, only one of which must be proven to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt to gain a conviction. Clemens said at the hearing, "Let me be clear: I have never used steroids or HGH."

It was at that hearing when McNamee sat at the same table, took the same oath to tell the truth and told a completely different story, saying that he had injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs on numerous occasions. He'd also saved physical evidence he said proved it: vials and ampules containing steroids and HGH, used and unused needles and syringes, and three cotton balls, one appearing to be stained with three blood spots -- all kept in a 16-ounce beer can for almost seven years before he turned it over to federal authorities.

That evidence likely will be key to his Tuesday testimony, as the questioning is moving into the 2000 and '01 seasons while both were with the Yankees. That was before, as Yankees general manager Brian Cashman testified last week, McNamee's contract was not renewed following two incidents in October 2001 -- one involving law enforcement in Florida and the other in which McNamee was reported to be incoherent at the team hotel in Seattle -- and growing tension within the organization with how McNamee was conducting himself on the job.

Tuesday's testimony mostly centered on the early days of their relationship. McNamee testified Monday that after he first injected Clemens in June 1998, two or three days after he believed Clemens talked with Jose Canseco about it at a party at Canseco's house in Florida, he did so eight or 10 times that year.

"I knew what I was doing was illegal," McNamee said. "I wish to God I could take it back."

Before McNamee's testimony took place, the attorneys sparred over what information about McNamee's life could come into the trial. Judge Reggie Walton, presiding over the case that wound up in a mistrial last July and now is through 15 days of proceedings this time around, granted a motion from lawyers from McNamee and his ex-wife, Eileen Taylor-McNamee, to quash a subpoena for their divorce records issued by the Clemens camp, suggesting -- as the motions to quash did -- that the attempts to get the records were little more than a fishing expedition to get more of McNamee's alleged misdeeds in front of the jury.

In a different matter relating to a key government witness, Walton also denied a defense motion to strike the testimony by Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte about the conversation he had with Clemens before the 2000 season in which Pettitte understood Clemens to having admitted to taking HGH. Although the defense got Pettitte to agree he was "50-50" on whether he understood Clemens correctly, Walton said he would not throw out the statement.

After the arguments took up Tuesday morning, the afternoon was made up of the testimony around which this case revolves. McNamee provided the jury with his background as a New York City police officer and a bullpen catcher for the Yankees before becoming a strength and conditioning trainer for elite baseball players, most famously Clemens and Pettitte. Part of his testimony was that he often put used needles in beer cans to make sure no one was stuck by one, a preview to the physical evidence he kept in a beer can.

McNamee testified that Clemens provided the drugs for his injections in 1998 and that Clemens once handed him a bag of steroids ampules, or small bottle-shaped containers, and asked him to get rid of them, which McNamee did by giving them to another player. McNamee said that came after Clemens developed an abscess on his right buttock, as had been part of earlier testimony from then-Blue Jays trainer Tommy Craig.

McNamee said he didn't know where Clemens got the steroids, and he didn't ask.

"Don't ask, don't tell," McNamee said.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.