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.
Dressed in a dark blue suit, Bonds alternately watched Bell on the stand, scribbled notes and whispered to one of his defense attorneys, Allen Ruby, as she testified.