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Baseball notebook

Testimony begins in trial of Bonds

Associated Press / March 23, 2011

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Barry Bonds admits using steroids during his baseball career, his lawyer told a jury in San Francisco yesterday. The catch is that Bonds’s personal trainer misled him into believing he was taking flax seed oil and arthritis cream.

“I know that doesn’t make a great story,’’ Allen Ruby said during his opening statement at the home run leader’s perjury trial. “But that’s what happened.’’

Assistant US Attorney Matt Parrella called such claims “ridiculous and unbelievable’’ and portrayed Bonds as a liar during his first chance to present the government’s position.

And so the crux of the criminal case against Bonds was laid before an eight-woman, four-man jury as the testimony phase of the trial got underway. Bonds has pleaded not guilty to four charges of lying to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied knowingly taking steroids and one count of obstruction.

Parrella started the day by saying Bonds lied to the grand jury even though the government promised not to prosecute him for drug use if he testified truthfully. “All he had to do was tell the truth, Parrella said. “That’s all, but he couldn’t do it.’’

Parrella tried to show a connection between Bonds and the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the Burlingame, Calif., company at the center of an international sports doping ring that the grand jury was investigating. Five men, including Victor Conte, BALCO’s founder, and Greg Anderson, Bonds’s personal trainer, pleaded guilty to steroids distribution after a 2003 government raid on BALCO.

Anderson was taken to jail yesterday after he told US District Judge Susan Illston he was refusing to testify against Bonds, whom he grew up with in San Mateo County.

Bonds looked away when Anderson and his attorney, Mark Geragos, entered the courtroom and again when US Marshals led him away to jail, where he will remain until he changes his mind or the trial ends.

Anderson has been held in contempt before. He served more than a year in prison for refusing to testify in 2006 before a grand jury investigating Bonds.

Lead investigator Jeff Novitzky was called as the first witness and recounted for the jury the start of his BALCO investigation.

Isringhausen back Mets pitcher Jason Isringhausen resumed throwing in Port St. Lucie, Fla., after being sidelined three days with inflammation in his right elbow . . . Carlos Beltran took another step in his return to the Mets from left knee tendinitis, serving as the designated hitter in two minor league games. Beltran went 2 for 8 with a double and home run.

Girardi has options Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t rule out using both Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot this season depending on the opposing pitcher . . . Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson was removed from the starting lineup for an exhibition against the Orioles because of a strained right oblique . . . The Mariners say Brendan Ryan will be their starting shortstop and Jack Wilson will shift to second base . . . The Braves announced plans to retire former manager Bobby Cox’s number (6) before a home game against the Cubs Aug. 12.

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