Cashman on the stand in Clemens case
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talked injuries, medical practices and underperforming pitchers.
It could very well have been another day in the front office of the Yankees, who have dealt with long-term injuries to hurlers Mariano Riviera, Michael Pineda and Joba Chamberlain in recent weeks. The venue Thursday, however, was US District Court, where Cashman testified in the perjury and obstruction trial of Roger Clemens.
Most of his testimony centered around who was authorized to give players injections and the role of former assistant strength coach Brian McNamee, who has admitted to providing and sometimes injecting Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.
Cashman said steroid use — and especially performance-enhancing drugs provided by team personnel — wasn’t something he ever came across in his duties.
“It’s not something that happens,” Cashman said after a question from Assistant US Attorney Steven Durham. “As I provided in my earlier testimony, our players are assets. They are what we’re built around and how we’re build for success. Your question about whether Brian McNamee was ever injecting a player of ours, that’s not in the course or the scope (of McNamee’s duties). It’s not something that would I have been allowed. . . . That would have put our assets in massive jeopardy.”
Cashman used the forum to again dispute a claim made by former Yankees manager Joe Torre in his 2009 autobiography, “The Yankee Year,” that Cashman turned a blind eye to steroid use by Yankees players.
“Never happened,” said Cashman, the Yankees GM since 1998.
Cashman described Clemens as a crucial addition to the Yankees, who he feared would become complacent after their 125-win season of 1998 that was punctuated by a championship.
“He was driven to win,” Cashman said of trading for Clemens before the 1999 season. “He had the desire to win one last thing and that was a World Series. We made the move because we thought it would complement the New York Yankees and help make sure we kept that competitive drive going.”
Cashmam did admit that after the Mitchell Report was released in December 2007 that he learned athletic trainers, who aren’t supposed to give injections, did inject some players with approved substances like vitamin B-12, but never any banned substances. McNamee didn’t even have the medical background of an athletic trainer when he served as an assistant strength and condition coach from 2000-2001.
Cashman said he was pushed by Clemens to hire McNamee, whose salary came out of Clemens’ contract, after a lackluster, injury-filled 1999 season. McNamee — who could testify as early as Monday — claimed he injected Clemens, then a member of the Yankees, in 2000 and 2001 and with HGH in 2000.
McNamee’s time with Yankees ended after the 2001 season, although Cashman wasn’t able to shed much light why McNamee’s contract was not renewed. (McNamee remained training Clemens independently for years afterward.) Due to previous rulings by Judge Reggie Walton, he would not allow in the precise timeline that led to the decision: mainly, a police investigation of McNamee.
McNamee allegedly had sex with an incoherent woman without her consent at a hotel pool in St. Petersburg, Fla., in October 2001. The date rape drug was found in her system. McNamee was questioned by police, but he not charged.
Cashman also described events 12 days after that incident where he was called to McNamee’s hotel room in Seattle where he received medical treatment. This incident involved a bar at the hotel, but jurors were left to guess what had transpired.
The final reason Cashman admitted that McNamee wasn’t brought back was that he wasn’t the best team player. McNamee was described as a tireless self-promoter who tried to add to his client list for outside training. He also meddled with others in the clubhouse.
Jeff Mangold, the head strength and condition coach with the Yankees at the time, said McNamee “did not respect the boundaries of his position” and his meddling was “bleeding into others (work)” in the clubhouse, according to Cashman. Cashman testified that McNamee even tried to adjust pitcher’s release point, something that bothered Mel Stottlemyre, the Yankees’ pitching coach at the time.
“I had to read and react to the toes he was stepping on,” Cashman said. “This individual, Brian McNamee, did not get along (with others).”
All these points — as incremental as they might have been — are seen as key to discredit McNamee, an even more crucial witness for prosecutors after Andy Pettitte’s testimony last week. Pettitte, a friend and former teammate of Clemens with the Yankees and then the Houston Astros, testified that he could have misunderstood Clemens alleged admission to using HGH in a 1999 or 2000 conversation.
And as far as the Yankee’s current injury woes, maybe there was somebody in the courtroom that could help — if he doesn’t get convicted of any of the six counts that could result in prison time. Rusty Hardin, one of Clemens’ attorneys, closed his cross-examination by asking: “Do you need a 50-year-old ball player who can still throw 92 mph?”
“Maybe,” Cashman responded with a smirk.
Outside of court, Cashman did give FOXSports.com an update on where the team stands, especially with its immediate need for arms.
“I’m not out there looking for relievers.” Cashman said.
Cashman said since he was in court — which bans cell phones or any other electronic devices inside — had no further updated on Riviera (torn ACL, torn meniscus and blood clot) or first baseman Mark Teixeira, who was is working through a breathing issue that came to light this week.
Cashman’s nearly four hours of testimony are likely his last, although he remains under subpoena and could be recalled. As such, he can’t talk about the case per rules of the gag order.