WASHINGTON -- Former Astros manager Phil Garner testified in the Roger Clemens perjury trial Thursday that two players told him they had used steroids and that Major League Baseball in past years had a problem with performance-enhancing drugs.
"Yes, I think we had a problem," said Garner, who cited estimates by confessed steroid-using ballplayers that as many as 50 percent of major leaguers used steroids. "It was a problem we needed to take care of."
Garner, under cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham, agreed the House hearing in March 2005 on steroids in baseball served a very important purpose, but added, "I would have preferred that Major League Baseball take care of it itself."
Clemens attorney Rusty Hardin has fought to keep out of the trial testimony and reports of widespread steroid use in baseball, to make sure the former star pitcher does not get tarred by guilt by association.
Hardin also has argued there was no legislative purpose for a second House hearing in 2008 featuring Clemens and his accuser, former Clemens trainer Brian McNamee, that led to the six-count indictment of the former Yankee for denying steroid use before Congress.
Garner said one position player told him in 1987 that he was "stacking," or using both human growth hormone and steroids at the same time, and that another position player in 2001 told him he was taking steroids. Clemens career, from 1984 to 2007, spanned that period.
But Garner, who managed Clemens for three seasons from 2004 to 2006, said he never noticed any signs or had any indication that Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs.
The final day of the seventh week of the Clemens trial featured defense witnesses ranging from a Toronto-based massage therapist who said she never saw acne -- a potential side effect of steroid use -- on Clemens' body to a former Clemens housekeeper who said she never saw vials of drugs in his Upper East Side apartment.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said yesterday he expects the government to grant immunity to Eileen McNamee to testify against her estranged husband, Brian McNamee. He said he expects to rule on the issue Monday.
The defense said it wants to call her to show inconsistencies in McNamee's testimony, including about potential crimes he might have committed -- and implicated her in -- as he responded to questions from Hardin during cross-examination.
If she is granted immunity, the defense said it will put her on the stand next week.
McNamee, a former Yankees strength coach who lives in Long Beach, testified that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drug in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Eileen McNamee filed for divorce in 2010 and the case is still proceeding in New York.Michael Gold, Eileen McNamee's lawyer, agreed to talk by phone with prosecutors Friday about 15 areas of potential crimes she might face if she testifies.