Roger Clemens put his right hand on the lectern, leaned down toward the microphone and made what might be the most important pitch of his life: "Not guilty, your honor."
Those words, uttered Monday in a strong, confident voice by the seven-time Cy Young Award winner sporting a black blazer and blond highlights in his hair, marked the official beginning of a court case that could taint baseball even further and land the “Rocket” in jail.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton presided over an arraignment hearing that lasted less than 14 minutes at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., across the street from the Capitol.
Walton set April 5 as the start of jury selection — the Monday of the first full week of the 2011 baseball season, and also around the time a case involving Barry Bonds, the all-time home run king, could be wrapping up in San Francisco.
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If convicted of six counts — three of making false statements, two of perjury and one of obstruction of Congress — Clemens could face up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine, although 15 to 21 months is the more likely sentence under federal guidelines.
MANNY JOINS WHITE SOX
Manny Ramirez will have to follow two nonnegotiable rules if he’s going to play for White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
No. 1: Stretch with your teammates.
No. 2: Be on the field for the national anthem.
That’s it. Well, he may have to trim the dreadlocks. But that’s about it.
“I want him to feel comfortable here,” Guillen said Monday. “I want him to like it here. I want him to have fun and I want him to be Manny.”
Back to frighten American League pitchers who haven’t seen him regularly in a few years, Ramirez will try to lead Chicago to the playoffs.
As expected, the White Sox claimed the unpredictable but productive 12-time All-Star slugger on waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers, counting on his powerful bat, full of so many October swings and homers, to help them make a postseason push.
Kenshin Kawakami is back with the Atlanta Braves and is on standby as the team awaits a health update from Derek Lowe. The Braves recalled Kawakami from Triple-A Gwinnett. The right-hander could be insurance for Lowe, who has lost three straight decisions. … Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman will be added to the Cincinnati Reds’ bullpen for their playoff push. The Reds plan to call up the hard-throwing lefty from Triple-A Louisville today. … Colorado Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle that he hurt in the batting cage. … The Texas Rangers reinstated outfielder Nelson Cruz from the 15-day disabled list.