Pettitte looks uncomfortable during testimony

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Pettitte looks uncomfortable during testimony

From Comcast SportsNet
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Andy Pettitte looked like he wanted to be anywhere but on the witness stand in the Roger Clemens perjury trial. During breaks Tuesday when the judge and lawyers haggled over legal procedures, Pettitte looked down or straight ahead, never in Clemens' direction. He rested his head in his palm, yawned, looked at his watch and sighed. A few times he rubbed his eyes for several seconds, looking like he couldn't wait for this to end. But Pettitte returns to the stand Wednesday, when Clemens' lawyers will continue to try to sow doubts about the key testimony that Pettitte provided for prosecutors: "Roger had mentioned to me that he had taken HGH." Clemens, who told Congress in 2008 that his friend and former Major League Baseball teammate "misremembers" the conversation, is accused of lying to Congress when he said he never took human growth hormone or steroids. The two men arrived at opposite ends of the courthouse a few minutes apart Wednesday morning, both in gray suits. Pettitte carried a backpack and a bottle of water. Clemens lawyer Michael Attanasio started the doubt campaign late Tuesday when he coaxed Pettitte into agreeing that Clemens' remark was a passing comment made during a workout. Attanasio also got Pettitte to praise Clemens' work ethic, mechanics and concentration -- not to mention the seven Cy Young awards he had won for his outstanding pitching. The cross-examination got to feel so much like a Clemens infomercial that prosecutor Steven Durham objected at one point. Pettitte is crucial to a government case that otherwise will rely heavily on the testimony of Brian McNamee, who worked as a strength coach for both Clemens and Pettitte and has said he injected both men with performance-enhancing substances. The government showed the jury photos of the three working out together in Texas during happier times -- "Mac, Roger and me," as Pettitte put it. Pettitte has acknowledged he received HGH from McNamee; Clemens has not. Pettitte told the jury about the time he used HGH in 2002 while recovering from an injury, but he wasn't allowed to say he was injected by McNamee because the judge earlier ruled that information inadmissible. Pettitte said he used HGH one other time, in 2004. He said he regretted it both times he tried it, that he doesn't think it helped him physically and that it has tarnished his name. "I wish I never would've" taken HGH, he said in his slow Texas drawl. "If I hadn't done it, I wouldn't be here today." Pettitte also recalled the other time he spoke with Clemens about HGH, during the media swirl surrounding earlier congressional hearings -- in 2005 -- on drug use in sports. Both were playing for the Houston Astros, and Pettitte asked Clemens at spring training what Clemens would say if asked by reporters about HGH use. Clemens responded, "What are you talking about?" according to Pettitte, and said Pettitte must have misunderstood the earlier conversation, said to have taken place in 1999 or 2000. "He said, My wife used it,'" Pettitte said. "Obviously I was a little flustered," Pettitte said, "because I thought that he told me that he did." Both Clemens and McNamee have said McNamee injected Debbie Clemens with HGH at the Clemens home in 2003, although they differ over certain details. Pettitte's appearance Tuesday came without warning. The government interrupted testimony from the trial's first witness to call Pettitte just before noon. Wearing a gray suit, white shirt and striped tie, he walked into court a day after allowing six runs and 10 hits with eight strikeouts over 5-23 innings in an extended spring training game in Clearwater, Fla., as part his comeback attempt at age 39 with the New York Yankees. Pettitte strode purposefully to the witness stand, but when he squeezed his 6-foot-5 frame into the seat, he looked out of place. He sat with hands clasped during most of his testimony. During prosecutor Durham's questioning, Pettitte described how he admired Clemens as a youngster and considered him a mentor when they played together for the Yankees and Astros. Pettitte said he still considered Clemens a good friend but hasn't been able to talk to him for a long time because of the case. He also said it was difficult to testify against his friend. But there was almost no interaction between the two large men Tuesday. About the only time Pettitte looked in Clemens' direction was when the prosecutor asked whether Clemens was in the courtroom, and Pettitte pointed to the man in the suit and "greenish tie." Clemens stood and nodded. For his part, Clemens took more notes than usual on his yellow legal pad. When trial recessed for the day, Pettitte walked out of the courtroom without looking toward Clemens. Pettitte signed an autograph in the hall, then quickly entered an office.

Northwestern holds off Ohio State for fifth Big Ten win, first win in Columbus in 40 years

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USA TODAY

Northwestern holds off Ohio State for fifth Big Ten win, first win in Columbus in 40 years

It's not something that's been said often over the decades, but Northwestern is one of the best teams in the Big Ten.

That's the story the standings tell, and with another week of the 2016-17 season in the books, the Wildcats sit at 5-2 in conference play, good for the second-best mark in the league.

That fifth conference win came Sunday afternoon with a 74-72 defeat of Ohio State. It was the first time Northwestern won in Columbus since 1977.

This is the first 5-2 start to Big Ten play for the Cats since 1968. So is this the first time ever the Cats get an invite to the NCAA tournament?

Of course that remains to be seen, but Chris Collins' squad sure seems to be setting itself up for inclusion in the field of 68. Sunday's win was just the latest to come away from Evanston, and in seven conference games, four of the team's five wins have come in road games, including three straight at Nebraska, Rutgers and Ohio State.

Northwestern had to find a way to win Sunday. A couple surges in the first half took the Cats from modest deficits to a lead that grew as big as eight. The halftime advantage was five, but that slipped away quickly as Northwestern shot poorly after halftime. Ice cold is a better descriptor, the Cats struggling to get their field-goal percentage above 30 percent over the final 20 minutes. It got there eventually, the team finishing shooting 32.3 percent in the second half, but it was the work from the free-throw line that made the win possible. Over the final 20 minutes, Northwestern was 14-for-16 from the charity stripe, including going 11-for-12 over the final minute and a half.

The key stretch came when a Scottie Lindsey 3-ball broke a 56-all tie with four and a half minutes to play. Ohio State countered with a bucket, but freshman point guard Isiah Brown turned in back-to-back scores of his own, the second a breakaway layup off a steal. That made it a five-point lead, and though the gap shrunk over the game's final three minutes, Northwestern's free-throw shooting allowed the Cats to hold that lead the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes shot themselves in the foot at the free-throw line. They were 12-for-23 on the game, and all but one of the attempts came in the second half, making for 10 missed free throws over the game's final 20 minutes. Northwestern committed a lot of fouls, but Ohio State couldn't capitalize, something that has to be quite painful for the Buckeyes, considering they had edges in other statistical categories. They shot 45.6 percent from the field compared to the Cats shooting 37.5 percent. Ohio State also had 16 second-chance points and 28 points in the paint. But Northwestern had 17 points off 13 Ohio State turnovers.

Lindsey finished with a game-high 21 points and has scored in double figures in every game this season. Bryant McIntosh had 17 points, and Vic Law had 10. Jae'Sean Tate scored 14 points for Ohio State, with JaQuan Lyle adding 13, Trevor Thompson scoring 11 and Cam Williams putting in 10.

The win was Northwestern's fourth straight and boosted its overall record to 16-4 to go along with the 5-2 mark in the conference. The Cats next play Nebraska on Thursday.

The loss snapped a modest two-game win streak for Ohio State and dropped the Buckeyes' record to 12-8 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten. They next play Minnesota on Wednesday.

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger has been sidelined a little longer than the originally expected three weeks with his right hand injury. Not that any missed time is enjoyable.

"I wanted to get back there probably a few weeks ago but unfortunately I couldn't," said Kruger, who suffered his injury on Dec. 30 against the Carolina Hurricanes. "I tried to listen to the doctors and do everything I can instead to be ready when I get cleared. That's my mindset."

Kruger is close, but not quite there, as the Blackhawks prepared for Sunday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks. Kruger skated with his teammates for the first time since being injured but wasn't among the line rushes. The center took faceoffs on his own at the end of practice. Kruger pronounced himself, "pretty close," to returning. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks will see how Kruger is over the next few days. The Blackhawks play again Tuesday and Thursday before heading into the All-Star break this weekend.

The Blackhawks have missed Kruger's versatility and especially his play on the penalty kill. The Blackhawks' kill has been fine through Kruger's absence but he nevertheless is a big part of it when he's healthy.

"We have a lot of options and when he's out everyone gets a more important role, whether starting or faceoffs. And we have a rotation of five guys who are in there most of the time. But he definitely absorbs the most responsibility when he's playing in that area," Quenneville said of Kruger. "So it's nice you get to try some other guys and you get deeper as you go along."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

One of the players who's emerged in Kruger's absence is Tanner Kero, who filled his third-line center void. Kero and linemates Vinnie Hinostroza and Marian Hossa clicked on the dads trip, coming up with big plays and points in the Blackhawks' victories over Colorado and Boston. As of now, Kero appears to have the hold on third-line center.

"I don't see too many things that would change his positioning because he really helped himself," Quenneville said.

Kruger said he's fine if that means returning to fourth-line center duties. Regardless, he'll help bolster the Blackhawks' forward lines. The last step is likely contact, which Kruger got a little of – outside of faceoffs – in Sunday's skate. Kruger's had to wait a little longer than expected on his injury but he's getting there.

“Obviously [I want to] get back and playing the same way,” Kruger said. “First I want to get healthy and then get back playing my best and do everything I can for the team.”