By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Is Baseball’s Blacklist Being Revisited?
TEMPE, Ariz. — The lack of offers to Barry Bonds will be examined by the baseball players’ association as part of its annual review of the free-agent market. Less than two weeks before opening day, the 43-year-old home run king remains unsigned.
“He’s in playing shape right now. He just hasn’t hit off live pitching,” Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris, said Tuesday. “I’ve had conversations with Barry. It would probably take him about two weeks to get ready.”
Bonds was indicted in November on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, charges stemming from 2003 grand jury testimony in which he denied knowingly using illegal performance-enhancing drugs. The seven-time NL MVP pleaded not guilty.
Tampa Bay acknowledged last month that it had internal discussions about the prospect of pursuing Bonds. St. Louis manager Tony La Russa had interest in Bonds but Cardinals management decided against opening talks.
Borris said Bonds was working out in the Los Angeles area. He wouldn’t comment on the status of any negotiations. “He wants to play,” Borris said.
After speaking with the Los Angeles Angels during his annual tour of spring-training camps, union head Donald Fehr said his staff will examine possible collusion against Bonds and others.
“We always look at the free-agent markets every year and make judgments about them, and if we come to the conclusion with respect to any player that there’s a matter worth pursuing, we’ll pursue it,” he said. “But I’m not going to make any suggestions or accusations unless and until we come to that conclusion.”
Fehr wouldn’t say whether he found it troublesome that no team has publicly said it wants Bonds. “I haven’t talked to him about it or his agents and I don’t want to comment personally about it since I haven’t had the opportunity to do that,” he said.
Bonds hit .276 last year with 28 homers, 66 RBIs and a major league-leading 132 walks. He made $19.3 million, and the Giants decided to let him go after 15 seasons in San Francisco.
While he has slowed in the outfield during recent seasons, Bonds could make a potent designated hitter for an American League team. He has 762 homers — seven more than Hank Aaron’s previous mark — and would be a box-office draw for a team with slow ticket sales.
On another topic, Fehr wouldn’t say whether he thinks baseball commissioner Bud Selig will try to punish players implicated in the use of performance-enhancing drugs by former Senate majority leader George Mitchell.
In his Dec. 13 report, Mitchell asked that Selig not impose discipline “except in those cases where he determines that the conduct is so serious that discipline is necessary to maintain the integrity of the game.”
“I hope that the recommendations Sen. Mitchell made in that regard will be honored,” Fehr said. “Obviously, the commissioner showed great respect, and I believe it’s fair to say deference, to Sen. Mitchell’s recommendations, and this is one of those.”
No players have been called in for investigatory interviews since Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd spoke with baseball lawyers Dec. 17. In addition, hearing dates have not been scheduled for Kansas City outfielder Jose Guillen, who appealed the 15-day suspension Selig imposed in early December.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported in November that Guillen purchased human growth hormone, testosterone and the steroids stanozolol and nandrolone between May 2002 and June 2005. Guillen has declined to address the allegations.
Baltimore outfielder Jay Gibbons also was suspended for 15 days and didn’t contest the penalty. Gibbons admitted receiving a shipment of HGH in January 2005.