Pittsburgh Pirates

Bonds gets thrust into legal limbo

Baseball’s home run king is jobless and apparently unemployable. His once peerless Hall of Fame credentials are tainted. Now, on the eve of resolving criminal charges that he lied under oath about performance-enhancing drugs use, the government has thrust Barry Bonds into a legal nether world with no end in sight.

The federal government Friday put the brakes on Bonds’ perjury trial, a brewing media spectacle that was to start Monday. Prosecutors had notified the exasperated judge that they would appeal her decision barring them from showing key evidence to the jury.

Now the case has shifted to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where government lawyers and Bonds’ team of top-notch Bay Area barristers will fight in the coming months over whether the jury will see the results of three positive steroid tests allegedly linked to Bonds and so-called doping calendars. Also at issue is part of a surreptitious recording in the San Francisco Giants’ clubhouse of Bonds’ personal trainer apparently discussing getting advanced warning of Major League Baseball drug tests on Bonds.

Unlike California state judges who must rule within 90 days on most matters before them or risk missing their paychecks, federal judges move at their own pace with no time limits placed on their deliberations.

That makes predicting how quickly — or slowly — the appeals court will act on the Bonds case a matter of conjecture.

Legal analysts have said the appellate court could take as little as two months to more than a year to send the case back to U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston, who would then need several more weeks or months to schedule and start another trial.

GIANTS — Barry Zito looked like his old self in his first spring outing.

The stronger, sleeker Zito looked like the dominant left-hander of years ago in San Francisco’s 6-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners, freezing the Mariners with his familiar, bending curveball in two hitless innings.

CUBS — Chicago reliever Carlos Marmol has decided to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic after all.

n Third baseman Corey Koskie and the Cubs have agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to their spring training camp.

YANKEES — New York catcher Jorge Posada was scratched from the starting lineup against Minnesota because of minor soreness and weakness in his surgically repaired right shoulder.

METS — New York ace Johan Santana says his Opening Day start could be in jeopardy as he continues to battle tightness in his elbow.

INDIANS — Former New York Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano made his debut for Cleveland, working two perfect innings in a 1-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

ROYALS — Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore took another step toward refurbishing the team’s bullpen, agreeing to a two-year contract with right-hander Juan Cruz that includes an option for 2011.

ROCKIES — Colorado outfielder Brad Hawpe will miss the World Baseball Classic because of a left finger injury.

Hawpe had four stitches on his pinkie finger after being spiked in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.