San Francisco • A lawyer for Barry Bonds urged a federal appeals court on Wednesday to toss out the slugger's obstruction of justice conviction, saying a rambling answer he gave while testifying before a grand jury was not a crime.
Appellate specialist Dennis Riordan argued that Bonds was not formally or specifically charged with the felony that he was convicted of committing. A federal jury in April 2011 found baseball's all-time home runs leader guilty of obstruction for saying he was a "celebrity child" when asked about injecting steroids.
Prosecutors asked Bonds during his December 2003 grand jury appearance whether Greg Anderson, his personal trainer, ever gave him "anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?"
Bonds referred to his father, former major leaguer Bobby Bonds, when he responded "that's what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but that you know, that I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see ..."
That particular exchange wasn't included in the indictment originally released in November 2007. The omission is "the dagger in the heart of this conviction," Riordan argued.
Further, Riordan said that Bonds ultimately answered the question when put to him again and denied receiving any substance to inject.
Judge Michael Daly Hawkins wondered aloud if Bonds' direct denial undercut the government's argument that Bonds intentionally misled the grand jury.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Merry Jean Chan countered that the denial was a lie because Bonds' former personal assistant, Cathy Hoskins, testified that she witnessed Anderson inject Bonds. Chan said Bonds' denial and his other rambling answers to the same question throughout his grand jury appearance added up to obstruction.
"He answered the question falsely each time," she said.
Bonds and his legal team are asking a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the lone felony conviction stemming from Bonds' 2½ hours of testimony before a grand jury investigating performance-enhancing drug use and sales among elite athletes.
Around the league
Indians • The last time a team brought Daisuke Matsuzaka into camp, it paid more than $100 million to get him. On Wednesday, the Cleveland Indians brought him into camp to compete for the back end of their rotation with a deal that will make him just $1.5 million this season. He can earn an additional $2.5 million in performance bonuses.
Yankees • New York closer Mariano Rivera said he's reached a decision on whether this will be his final season and plans to announce it before opening day. Baseball's career saves leader had surgery June 12 to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, an injury that occurred while he was shagging fly balls during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3.