Baseball Notebook

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 16, 2009

Associated Press
The baseball notebook …
HOUSTON ó A former gym owner in the Houston area says he never supplied Roger Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs and is looking forward to meeting with a grand jury investigating whether Clemens lied to Congress.
Kelly Blair received a subpoena on Tuesday and will testify before a grand jury on Aug. 4.
Blair is the former owner of 1-on-1 Elite Personal Fitness in Pasadena. The FBI met with Blair in March 2008, about a month after opening its perjury investigation into Clemens.
Blair said Thursday night that he’s never met Clemens, any members of the Clemens’ family or anyone representing Clemens.
“I did not supply Roger Clemens (with) growth hormone,” Blair said.
MANNYWOODLOS ANGELES ó Mannywood’s star attraction was back in residence Thursday night, with slugger Manny Ramirez playing at Dodger Stadium for the first time since his 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug rules ended.
Fans greeted Ramirez’s first at-bat with hearty applause and chants of “Manny! Manny!”
Ramirez arrived about five hours before the team opened a 10-game homestand against the Astros. He went through batting practice and fielding drills under a hot sun.
“I’m excited, man,” Ramirez said, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses and his dreadlocks secured by a bright green band. “This is the best fans in the world, and they’re behind me.”
A FAST 200
MIAMI ó Ryan Howard’s unfamiliar with the Hall of Famer he surpassed by reaching a home run milestone Thursday night.
The Philadelphia Phillies slugger hit his 200th home run, achieving the total in fewer games than any player in major league history. Ralph Kiner, who played in the 1940s and ’50s, previously held the record.
What does Howard know about Kiner?
“Uh, he’s the guy whose record I broke,” Howard said with a smile. “Not to be disrespectful or anything, but he was before my time.”
Howard achieved the feat in his 658th game, hitting his 23rd homer of the season in the sixth inning of a 4-0 win over Florida. Kiner hit No. 200 in his 706th game.
“It’s a nice feat,” Howard said. “It’s a nice record to have. I’ll take it and run with it.”
JERUSALEM ó America’s favorite pastime could be heading back to the Holy Land.
Israeli baseball authorities say they’ve reached a deal giving a group of American businessmen a two-year option to operate a pro league in Israel.
Israeli baseball official Nathan Pomerantz says the Americans are conducting “due diligence” on the venture. He hopes the league will be ready for play in 2010 or 2011.
TAMPA, Fla. ó New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner spent three hours in his office at the team’s spring training complex Thursday and said he was feeling well.
Steinbrenner, who celebrated his 79th birthday on July 4, has kept a low profile since turning over the daily operation of the Yankees to his sons, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, almost two years ago.