Jeter, Rivera could be dragged into Clemens/McNamee fray

As Brian McNamee and Roger Clemens continue their “he said/he said” spat, most people — and particularly the Yankees — would prefer it if this mess would stay far, far away from the Bronx. McNamee, however, has other plans.

According to the Daily News, in a brief filed on Friday and not yet available to me via the PACER system, McNamee has named a handful of current Yankees as potential witnesses in Clemens’ defamation suit against McNamee. Nathaniel Vinton has more:

The Yankees have never relished the destructive defamation suit former pinstripe hero Roger Clemens brought two years ago against his accuser, former Yankee trainer Brian McNamee, but bigger headaches for the club may yet lie ahead according to a new appeals-court brief issued by McNamee’s defense attorneys.

A footnote deep in the 60-page brief lists current Yankee stars Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter as witnesses McNamee might call to the stand for sworn testimony about Clemens’ purported use of steroids and human growth hormone. Also listed among potential witnesses for McNamee is Angela Moyer, an alleged mistress of Clemens who tended bar near the Upper East Side apartment where McNamee said he visited Clemens after Yankee games to inject the pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone (Clemens has testified he thought the syringes contained vitamin B12).

The brief, which McNamee’s attorneys sent Friday to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, portrays Clemens’ defamation suit as nearly dead in the water. It comes in response to Clemens’ appeal of a lower court’s ruling last year that eviscerated the suit, which Clemens first brought against McNamee on Jan. 6, 2008, three weeks after a report by former Senator George Mitchell first publicized McNamee’s accusations. Mitchell was also listed as a potential witness. He and the others could also be summoned to testify as part of a defamation countersuit that McNamee himself brought against Clemens last year in a federal court in Brooklyn — and will likely pursue, at least in order to recover his monumental legal fees.

If McNamee’s brief is as convincing as the Daily News says it is, the Yankees could be free of having to send their star players to testify. McNamee’s side could file for summary judgment and hope to get the case’s original dismissal affirmed. However, McNamee will continue to push his countersuit in Brooklyn, and only a settlement would stave off a trial.

For the Yankees, Spring Training steroid stories are becoming old hat, and the Roger Clemens mess has been lingering like a bad taste in the back of the team’s mouth since the Rocket’s ill-fated 2007 return to the Bronx. Hopefully, this story will just go away, but then again, we’ve all been hoping that for years with no end in sight.

Catch Joe on SportsTalkSoup

In case you’re bored this Saturday evening, you can listen to me on SportsTalkSoup at 11 p.m. Check out the show here.

Open thread: Yanks split games

Today’s game against Detroit was inevitable. After five scoreless innings, we saw plenty of headlines asking whether Sergio Mitre was the frontrunner for the fifth starter gig. Yet, as happens often in the spring, he got rocked today, allowing three runs, including a solo home run to Johnny Damon, in four innings of work. Chad Gaudin, who started the game, allowed three runs of his own in three innings. Boone Logan finished with a scoreless frame.

On the offensive side, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Francisco Cervelli eached picked up two hits, while A-Rod added an RBI double. Nick Swisher, Jamie Hoffmann, and Austin Romine added singles of their own.

In Tampa, Javier Vazquez had a somewhat tough go in his three innings, allowing four hits and walking one, leading to two runs, including a Ty Wigginton home run. Aceves came on to pitch four innings of one-run ball (solo shot to Garrett Atkins), while Royce Ring and David Robertson pitched scoreless frames at the end. Jorge Posada powered the offense, going 3 for 4, while Nick Johnson went two for three with a walk. Brandon Laird continued his hot spring, going 2 for 4. Johnson’s was the only extra base hit.

Now that you’re caught up on the spring training happenings, enjoy your open thread. I’ve got a radio hit coming up at 11, but we’ll have a post with details about that around 10.

Nine reassigned to minor league camps

On the same day we learned that the Yankees re-upped with their pre-arbitration players, we also heard of the first round of Spring Training cuts. Bryan Hoch has word of nine reassignments. Of the big names, Andrew Brackman is bound for Class A Tampa while Christian Garcia will go to Trenton and Wilkin De la Rosa will open the year in AAA. De la Rosa could very well see the Bronx later this year. Six other players — Wilkins Arias, Jeremy Bleich, Kyle Higashioka, Kei Igawa, D.J. Mitchell, Kevin Whelan — were sent to the minor league camp with no word of their ultimate assignments. At least the winningest pitcher in Scranton history will be able to improve upon his record.

Yankees agree to terms with pre-arb players

Via the Winnipeg Free Press, the Yankees have agreed to terms with their pre-arbitration eligible players, meaning guys with less than three years of service time. There’s 18 players in all, but the notables include Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Al Aceves, David Robertson, and Brett Gardner. No word on the money, but they’re all close to the $400,000 league minimum I’m sure. Joba and Hughes might be over $500,000 by now, and both will be looking at seven figures in their first year of arbitration eligibility in 2011.

Spring Training Game Thread: Javy & Ace

The Yankees are doing the split squad thing today, with half the team staying home to play the Orioles while the other half is going on the road to play Johnny Damon and the Tigers. After getting rained out the past two days, I’m sure the guys will be glad to get back on the field and get some actual work in. Taking BP and throwing in the bullpen just isn’t the same.

Here’s the starting lineup for the game against the O’s…

Gardner, CF
Johnson, DH
Posada, C
Cano, 2B
Granderson, LF
Winn, RF
Miranda, 1B
Laird, 3B
Pena, SS

Scheduled Pitchers: Javy Vazquez, Al Aceves, David Robertson, and Royce Ring. Kei Igawa, Wilkins Arias, and Jeremy Bleich are also available if needed.

Also scheduled to play: Reegie Corona, Colin Curtis, Kyle Higashioka, Jesus Montero, P.J. Pilittere, and Jon Weber. Mitch Abeita, Austin Krum, and Justin Snyder are also available if needed.

Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre will be on the mound in Lakeland. First pitch for both games is scheduled for 1:05pm, and you can watch the O’s game on My9. Enjoy.

Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar, AP

Mo & Marte to take the mound on Tuesday

Via Chad Jennings, Mariano Rivera and Damaso Marte will make their long awaited Spring Training debuts on Tuesday night against the Astros. The last time we saw those two on the mound, they were busy recording the final seven outs of Game Six of the World Series. Chan Ho Park, meanwhile, will throw live batting practice later today before getting into a game later this week.

Those three will probably get about eight innings in before the season starts, which is pretty normal for veteran relievers. Mo won’t travel at all, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Marte and Park didn’t either.