By John Kruzel ’14
WASHINGTON – A massage therapist who treated Roger Clemens during his career testified that he noticed no acne or change in the pitcher’s body during Clemens’ alleged steroid use.
What remained consistent during and after Clemens’ alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, according to the witness, was the pitchers’ relentless work ethic and training regimen.
“It was second to none,” Rohan Baichu, the former massage therapist and sports trainer, said today in response to questions from Clemens’ attorney.
The defense team’s strategy—interrupted by frequent objections from the prosecution—was to establish the consistency and intensity of Clemens’ workout and fitness routines over the six years he and Baichu worked together on conditioning and post-workout recovery. Baichu began training with and massaging Clemens in 1999, the first of three seasons when the pitcher is alleged to have used human growth hormone and anabolic steroids.
Clemens is on trial for lying to congress when he denied using performance enhancing drugs in response to a House investigation into the presence of steroids in Major League Baseball.
Unlike most pitchers Baichu observed who rewarded themselves with rest and relaxation following rigorous workouts, Clemens’ opted instead for Baichu’s particularly intense deep-tissue massages to flush metabolic waste from his tired muscles.
“He did not let his body [breakdown],” Baichu said.
While the circumstantial evidence offered by Baichu and others today did not contradict claims by Clemens’ former strength coach Brian McNamee that he injected the superstar with the illicit drugs, the defense testimony sought to undermine the allegation that steroids were responsible for Clemens’ continued on field prowess.
Michael Boddicker, a former teammate of Clemens’ on the Boston Red Sox from 1988-90, corroborated Clemens’ display of “iron will” as an athlete, calling him the hardest working player he’d ever seen.
Boddicker said he continued to watch Clemens’ career after the two were traded to different teams and said he wasn’t surprised to see the pitcher continue to dominate the big leagues into his 40s.
Asked whether there was any noticeable difference in Clemens’ pitching from the late 1980s until Clemens’ retirement in 2007, Boddcker replied, “The velocity of his fastball might have dropped two miles-per-hour. But that’s it.”
Boddicker said he once witnessed Clemens received an injection of the vitamin B-12 in his buttocks – a drug that was commonly administered to baseball players – but that he never saw Clemens receive steroids nor had any reason to suspect Clemens’ use of the banned substances.
Another defense witness testified that he saw Clemens on a golf course in Florida on the day the pitcher is alleged to have attended a pool party at Jose Canseco’s house. Clemens’ denial of having attended the party is one of the false statements the U.S. attorneys allege Clemens made.
But testimony by former baseball broadcaster Joe Angel laid out an alternative timeline of the day, with Angel claiming to have seen Clemens in the golf clubhouse around 8:30 or 9 in the morning.
According to Angel, a former member of the club, it takes a foursome of golfers some 4-1/2 hours to finish a round of golf, which conflicts with the timeline cited in the indictment that places Clemens at Canseco’s house before his golf game would have concluded.
Frustration continued to mount between the prosecution and defense team with the sides cycling between forced civility and thinly veiled hostility as they faced off in the wood-paneled, marble-accented courtroom in the federal trial court here for the eighth week.
The morning opened with a member of the prosecution complaining the defense had not provided the government ample time to prepare for testimony by an expert witness today that would reveal a finding that calls into question the validity of the only physical evidence in the trial.
The expert witness was expected to testify that syringes and cotton balls proffered by Brian McNamee – Clemens’ former strength coach and chief accuser in the trial – contained a mixture of both Clemens’ and McNamee’s DNA. The defense hoped the finding would support a theory that McNamee had doctored the evidence.
“We aren’t prepared to cross-examine, your honor,” the prosecuting attorney said. “We need time to talk to our experts before we do so.”
After the defense argued that prosecutors could confer with their experts during lunch break, Judge Reggie Walton rebuked both sides.
“Neither of you has been as candid as you should be,” Walton, a former West Virginia University football player, scolded. “The spirit of the rule has not been complied with.”
The diminished pace resulting from such gamesmanship has produced more than merely a lengthier trial than expected.
After three jurors have been dismissed (two for sleeping during testimony, another after her mother passed away), the jury now consists of 13 – leaving 12 jury members and one alternate. Making matters more complicated is the fact one of the jurors needs to leave for a six-month trip to Germany on June 19.
“I’m afraid if the jury deliberates for as long as they did in the [John] Edwards trial, which was nine days, we might be in trouble,” Walton said. The judge added that pressure to speed deliberations might pressure the departing jury member to rush a decision.
This is the second trial Clemens has faced after Judge Walton declared a mistrial last summer when the prosecution disclosed evidence to the jury that the court wanted to remain sealed.