February 14, 2013

Major League Notebook: Bonds' lawyer says felony conviction should be tossed

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - A lawyer for Barry Bonds urged a federal appeals court Wednesday to toss out Bonds' obstruction of justice conviction, saying a rambling answer he gave while testifying before a grand jury was not a crime.

Dennis Riordan, an appellate specialist, argued that Bonds was not formally or specifically charged with the felony he was convicted of committing. A federal jury in April 2011 found Bonds, baseball's all-time home runs leader, guilty of obstruction for saying he was a "celebrity child" when asked about injecting steroids.

Prosecutors asked Bonds during his December 2003 grand jury appearance whether Greg Anderson, his personal trainer, ever gave him "anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with."

Bonds referred to his father, former major leaguer Bobby Bonds, when he responded "that's what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but that -- you know, that -- I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see ..."

That particular exchange wasn't included in the indictment originally released in November 2007. The omission is "the dagger in the heart of this conviction," Riordan argued.

MARINERS: Fighting back tears while his hands trembled, Felix Hernandez signed the seven-year, $175 million contract that makes him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball.

Hernandez was greeted by front-office staff all wearing yellow "Kings Court" T-shirts that have become a special section of the stadium for his starts. He immediately got choked up, repeatedly saying, "I will not disappoint anybody."

INDIANS: Pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka officially joined the team, signing a minor-league contract.

Matsuzaka said through an interpreter that he chose Cleveland over two other teams because he wanted to compete in the American League and pitch against Boston.

YANKEES: Closer Mariano Rivera said he's reached a decision on whether this will be his final season and plans to announce it before opening day.

Rivera had surgery June 12 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, an injury that occurred while he was shagging fly balls during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3.

METS: Manager Terry Collins plans to use Bobby Parnell as the closer if Frank Francisco isn't ready on opening day.

Francisco has been shut down with the same right elbow inflammation that ended his season last September and led to December surgery to remove bone spurs.

REDS: Johnny Cueto said he's fully recovered from the injury that scuttled his playoffs after only eight pitches.

Cueto pulled muscles in his right side during the first game of the playoff series against San Francisco. He left in the first inning and never got back on a mound because of the injury, the first to a Reds starter all season.

PADRES: Yasmani Grandal, the suspended catcher, plans to apologize to his teammates this weekend.

Grandal was banned in November for the first 50 games of the season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He hasn't publicly discussed the penalty beyond an initial statement.

PIRATES: The team signed infielder Brandon Inge.

Inge, who played catcher, infield and outfield for Detroit, agreed to a minor league contract and received in invitation to spring training.

RAYS: Third baseman Evan Longoria said his surgically repaired left hamstring feels good and the team is determined to do everything it can make sure that doesn't change.

Keeping Longoria in the middle of the lineup and off the disabled list figures to be one of the keys to remaining competitive in the rugged AL East.

WHITE SOX: Confirming he turned down a one-year contract extension in October, Robin Ventura said he prefers to focus on the two years remaining on his deal as manager.

Ventura, who is entering the second year of a three-year deal, said he will revisit his future when his contract is up.

YANKEES-MARINERS: New York added depth to its bullpen, acquiring right-hander Shawn Kelley from Seattle for minor league outfielder Abraham Almonte.

Kelley, 28, went 2-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 47 appearances for Seattle last season and figures to fill a middle-relief role with the Yankees.

He was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Feb. 7 when the club signed catcher Kelly Shoppach.

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