Griffey defends Bonds

Griffey defends Bonds

FULLERTON, Calif. -- Ken Griffey Jr. stepped up to the plate on Tuesday during a Team USA practice at Goodwin Stadium on the campus of Cal State-Fullerton and defended Barry Bonds against the latest allegations that the San Francisco Giants slugger used performance-enhancing drugs. And that Griffey knew about it.

The newest twist, allegedly involving a 1998 conversation between Griffey and Bonds at Griffey's Florida home, is detailed in a new biography by Jeff Pearlman about Bonds entitled, "Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero." The excerpts of the book have yet to be released, but on Tuesday a quote from the book attributed to Bonds was read on ESPN describing how Bonds told Griffey that offseason that he was going to start taking "some hard-core stuff."

"I've been to Barry's house, he's been to my house since we were kids, so that is nothing new," Griffey told a group of reporters. "The conversation that supposedly happened, I don't ever remember happening. That's it. I just don't remember talking about the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"I know Barry differently than most people. Baseball is probably the furthest thing from his mind once the season is over. Once the season starts, that's when all hell breaks loose."

Pearlman, asked if he was quoting Bonds directly, said that the information didn't come from Bonds or Griffey, but from "multiple sources."

Details of the latest book about Bonds came a week after another book was excerpted in Sports Illustrated alleging Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs during a five-year period beginning in 1998.

That book, entitled "Game of Shadows" and written by a pair of San Francisco Chronicle reporters who covered the federal investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO), says Bonds used an array of steroid-based drugs from 1998 to 2002, including the 2001 season when Bonds hit 73 homers to break Mark McGwire's three-year-old record.

Griffey said on Tuesday that players were growing weary of all the chatter about Bonds.

"As baseball players, we're all tired of being asked about Barry and anything that's negative toward our sport," Griffey said. "We have enough problems in the world. Let's talk about those rather than what's happening here."

Griffey said he knows nothing about Bonds using performance-enhancing drugs and said that all of Bonds' 708 homers were accomplished "naturally." Bonds goes into the season six homers behind Babe Ruth's 714 and 47 in arrears of Hank Aaron's 755.

Bonds, at 41, is recovering from having surgery on his knee three times last year. But Griffey said his friend's success is easy to explain.

"How do I explain it? He works hard," Griffey said. "I've got cousins who work in gyms. All they do is lift weights and they make Barry look small. When you go in the gym and give 100 percent, you're bound to see results. That's the way things work. I have to do it with rehab -- give 100 percent in rehab to get back on the field."

When asked if he thought Bonds had obtained his strength and size naturally, Griffey said: "Does it really matter what I think?"

Pressed again on the question, Griffey said: "Yeah!"

Griffey, 36, was once considered the heir apparent to Ruth and Aaron, but because of a series of injuries since he left the Seattle Mariners for the Cincinnati Reds after the 1999 season, he has missed more games than hit home runs.

Griffey, who has three homers in the World Baseball Classic, has 536 in his 17-year career.

Bonds has consistently denied the use of steroids, and until 2003, Major League Baseball did not test for a wide variety of drug use. During the past three years, as the incidence of testing and the penalties for being caught has increased, Major League Baseball has yet to report that Bonds failed a drug test.

No one has ever insinuated that Griffey used performance-enhancing drugs and on Tuesday, Griffey defended himself on that front when it was posed that all the stats from this era, including his, are tainted.

"You can't look at mine," Griffey said. "You know damn well that what you see is what you get. You can look at other people and speculate all you want. But you guys know that from looking at me, I didn't touch a thing. I don't worry about other people's numbers. You guys know me. I don't worry about your relationships with other people."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.