SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds' former mistress testified Monday that he blamed a 1999 elbow injury on steroid use, and that the body and behavior of baseball's home run king changed during their nine-year relationship.
Called by prosecutors to the witness stand, Kimberly Bell choked up as she recalled Bonds once threatening "to cut my head off and leave me in a ditch," an outburst prosecutors attribute to steroid use. The defense portrayed Bell as an unreliable witness, hungry to capitalize on her affair with Bonds, and Bell acknowledged that the relationship benefited her financially.
Bonds, who holds the major league record for home runs in a career, is accused of four counts of making false statements and one of obstruction for telling a federal grand jury in 2003 -- months after his relationship with Bell ended -- that he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.
Bell took the stand Monday morning after San Francisco Giants clubhouse manager Mike Murphy nervously testified that Bonds needed a bigger hat for the 2002 season. Prosecutors say that testimony is important because an enlarged head is a side effect of human growth hormone use.
Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow, Bell said she asked Bonds about the problem with his left elbow, which she described as "a big lump it looked awful." She testified that Bonds responded by saying his steroid use caused the injury, because the muscle and tendons grew too fast for the joint to handle.
"It blew out," she said.
Bell also said that Bonds talked about the widespread use of steroids among baseball players, including his suspicion that Mark McGwire was juicing during his assault on the single-season home run record in 1998 -- a mark that Bonds later broke.
"He mentioned that other players do it and that's how they got ahead, that's how they achieved," Bell said.
Bell, wearing a gray pantsuit and white shirt, said she and Bonds met briefly on July 3, 1994, and attended a barbecue the next day. From there, they shared a romantic relationship that continued even after Bonds married another woman in 1999.
A visibly uncomfortable Bell testified that Bonds' behavior also changed over time. "He was increasingly aggressive, irritable, agitated and very impatient," she said.
Beltran back in action
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran is scheduled to play today in his first major league spring training game since March 6, which eliminates the possibility of the club backdating time on the disabled list.
That would have allowed Beltran to miss just three games of the regular season, but the Mets believe he can be ready for opening day as he recovers from left knee tendinitis.
The 33-year-old Beltran developed tendinitis while overcompensating for the right knee that needed surgery in January 2010. He was shut down for more than a week after his first spring training game but resumed baseball activities March 17.