|MIGUEL TEJADALearned his lesson|
Tejada receives fine, probation
The prosecutor's words were delivered in the matter known as "The United States of America vs. Miguel O. Tejada," spoken during yesterday's 23-minute hearing in which the Houston Astros shortstop was sentenced to one year of probation for misleading Congress.
The message - famous or not, you must tell the truth - also could be interpreted as a warning to another baseball star, Roger Clemens. His case, involving sworn testimony to the House of Representatives, is currently before a grand jury in the very same federal courthouse in which Tejada appeared.
"People have to know that when Congress asks questions, it's serious business," Assistant US Attorney Steven Durham told the court. "And if you don't tell the truth - and we can prove you haven't told the truth - then there will be accountability."
Congress referred Tejada to the Justice Department in January 2008, a little more than a year before it asked that Clemens be investigated to determine whether he lied when saying he never used performance-enhancing drugs.
Tejada was the All-Star sitting in court this day, his chin resting on his right hand while Durham talked. Tejada was the past American League MVP receiving his punishment after pleading guilty last month and admitting he withheld information about an ex-teammate's use of performance-enhancing drugs when questioned in 2005 by congressional investigators.
"I take full responsibility for not answering the question," Tejada told US Magistrate Judge Alan Kay.
Standing at a lectern facing Kay, Tejada spoke softly for less than a minute, the talented hands he normally uses to grip a bat or field ground balls stuffed in the pant pockets of his pinstriped, three-piece suit.
He apologized to Congress, to the court, to baseball fans - "especially the kids" - and added: "I learned a very important lesson."
Tejada is the first high-profile player convicted of a crime stemming from baseball's steroids era.
"What people are not entitled to do, your honor, is to provide untruthful or dishonest answers. No one has that right," Durham told the court.
Tejada faced up to a year of imprisonment and a fine up to $100,000. But Kay followed the recommendation of prosecutors who said he deserved a lighter punishment, issuing a sentence of probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $5,000 fine.
Kay waived drug testing often required of other convicts on probation and said he wouldn't restrict the player's travel.
It was noted that the fine should not be a hardship for Tejada, entering the final season of a $72 million, six-year contract.
"I have no doubt of your sincerity, that you regret your actions," Kay told Tejada.
Tejada has acknowledged he bought human growth hormone while playing for the Oakland Athletics, but said he threw the drugs away without using them, and prosecutors said during his February plea hearing they had no evidence to contradict that.
Manager Joe Girardi said the lefthander will pitch the season opener at Baltimore April 6, and will also throw the first game at the new Yankee Stadium 10 days later against Cleveland.
"I'm excited," said Sabathia, who agreed to a $161 million, seven-year contract in December after leaving Milwaukee as a free agent.
Girardi is also "toying" with the idea of flip-flopping leadoff hitter Johnny Damon and No. 2 hitter Derek Jeter in the batting order. The manager plans to have Jeter hit first and Damon second on a regular basis during the remaining spring training games.