Ex-Clemens teammate: B12 needles were common
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WASHINGTON -- A former major leaguer testified in the Roger Clemens perjury trial Wednesday that he got vitamin B12 shots during his career and often saw loaded syringes lined up awaiting players in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse.
Former catcher Charlie O'Brien, a former teammate of Clemens, is the first witness to corroborate Clemens' claim that he saw "four or five" needles loaded with B12 ready for players, one of the obstruction of Congress acts listed in the six-count indictment against him.
O'Brien said he started getting the B12 shots with the Mets in 1993 and he is "positive" he remembers seeing needles lined up awaiting players in 1998, when he was Clemens' personal catcher for Toronto.
On cross-examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham asked O'Brien whether he remembered the color of B12 shots -- which a pharmacist earlier in the trial testified is red, unlike anabolic steroids, some of which are clear.
"I think it was clear. I don't know. I was bent over and didn't usually look at it," said O'Brien, who said he took the shots in his buttocks.
O'Brien's testimony contradicted trainers and executives from Clemens' four teams who testified earlier that B12 injections weren't widespread and that they never saw B12 needles lined up awaiting players, as Clemens, the former Yankees pitching great, had told Congress in 2008.
In other testimony Wednesday, Darrin Fletcher, a Blue Jays catcher, said he did not see Clemens at a June 1998 party at the Florida home of Jose Canseco, which McNamee said preceded his first injection of Clemens with steroids. Fletcher said he arrived in a hotel van.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gilberto Guerrero asked Fletcher in cross-examination about a 2008 Newsday article that quoted him as saying he had arrived in a rental car, had been at the party briefly and that "people were floating in and out."
Fletcher said, "I don't remember talking to a Newsday reporter."
Defense attorney Rusty Hardin has been trying to build a case with testimony from former teammates about his work ethic and determination that Clemens didn't need performance-enhancing drugs to succeed.
Prosecutors sought to undermine that testimony by having O'Brien, Fletcher and others say they did not know Clemens admitted publicly to taking the painkiller Vioxx, pulled from use for deadly side effects, and the diet supplement ephedra, now banned after killing a ballplayer.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton plans a conference on whether the defense can call the estranged wife of Brian McNamee, Clemens' chief accuser, to the witness stand.