Yankees' Brian Cashman testifies at Clemens trial

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens autographs Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens autographs baseballs as he leaves the Federal Court in Washington. (May 9, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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WASHINGTON -- Yankees general manager Brian Cashman on Thursday lionized Roger Clemens and denigrated Brian McNamee, the former pitcher's accuser, as he testified as a government witness in the Clemens perjury trial.

Cashman, responsible for bringing Clemens to the Yankees twice, called him "one of the greatest players I've ever seen, one of the best people when it goes to his leadership abilities. He worked harder than everybody."

But when questions turned to McNamee, Cashman called him a "problem." Cashman said he did not want to hire him in the first place and let him go after two years following two off-field incidents and complaints about him from other Yankees trainers and coaches.

Cashman's testimony about the pitcher who helped the Yankees win two World Series closed out the fourth week of the trial of Clemens, who is charged with lying to Congress when he denied using steroids or human growth hormone.

McNamee, Clemens' chief accuser, is expected to take the stand Monday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham put Cashman on the stand to give testimony about Clemens' need for McNamee after the pitcher struggled in 1999 without him. But defense attorney Rusty Hardin elicited testimony favorable to Clemens.

Under questioning by Hardin, Cashman said he never suspected that Clemens used performance enhancing drugs.

Asked by Durham when he learned McNamee had injected Clemens with steroids and HGH, Cashman said, "I never learned that he has." When Durham asked whether he remembered learning that from the 2008 House hearing, Cashman said, "Allegedly, yes."

Asked whether he ever said to McNamee that he didn't care what players were taking just as long it didn't come back to him, Cashman shot back, "Absolutely never happened."

Testifying about McNamee's hiring, Cashman said Clemens made the request as he sat with a pulled muscle, iced up in the visitors' clubhouse, after two bad innings in a 1999 playoff loss to the Red Sox. "He broached the subject of Brian McNamee. He talked about how he clicked with McNamee well. Brian knew how to train him, knew his body well," Cashman said.

Cashman said he hired McNamee at the direction of Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner, under a $30,000-a-year contract for a newly created position to work with Clemens. Though Clemens was to reimburse the Yankees for the salary, Cashman said he couldn't remember whether that occurred and has no records to show he did.

Cashman said two years later he didn't renew McNamee's contract, though McNamee continued to train Clemens privately. Cashman cited two 2001 off-field incidents, one involving police and another that occurred in a barroom, details of which prosecutors have fought to keep from the jury.Cashman also said other trainers and coaches complained that McNamee was "not respecting the boundaries of his position" and was offering pitching and training advice to other players.

But under questioning by Durham, Cashman agreed that McNamee was more popular than the strength coach, and that players "gravitated" toward him. "Clemens had picked him," Cashman said, "and that gave instant credibility to him."

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