Barry Bonds only has one thing to say about the steroid allegations that dog him: They hurt.
"I'm only human," Bonds told ESPN's Jim Gray on Tuesday, in his first exclusive interview since passing Babe Ruth for second on the all-time home runs list.
Bonds declined to discuss the allegations, saying not only that he cannot by law talk about his grand jury testimony but also that Major League Baseball has requested he not discuss steroids. He also said that his attorneys have asked him not to talk about the situation.
According to ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack, any witness who testifies before a grand jury is allowed to discuss his own testimony but cannot talk about the testimony of other witnesses. Major League Baseball has had no comment on Bonds' contention that it asked him not to talk about steroids.
Bonds said it would hurt if, after he is done playing, an asterisk was put next to his records.
"It would hurt. I would be disappointed," he said. He also said he didn't know if that would happen and in his heart he doesn't believe it will happen.
Bonds has said repeatedly he never knowingly took steroids.
However, he told Gray that he doesn't believe Major League Baseball is attacking him personally by investigating steroid use; he thinks baseball is doing what is best for baseball by looking at the whole period.
Bonds talked a lot about how he's trying to change and be a happier person. He's working hard to react better to questions that he considers stabbing. He said he wants to be liked.
Bonds played down claims that his pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record has been joyless, saying that at times he didn't make it pleasant. But he said that he's trying hard to change and to create joy. He also said he doesn't recall making negative comments about Ruth in the past; if he did say such things, he said that was "old Barry" and apologized.
Bonds also doesn't believe that race has been a factor in how he's perceived. He said he blames himself for the impression the public has of him because as a younger player he was angry and didn't handle his emotions well in public. He also apologized for that.
Bonds said that it meant a lot to him when Albert Pujols recently came out in publicly support of him.
"I love him for it," Bonds said. "I love Albert Pujols."
Bonds also said it was great to see Pujols' performance this season and hopes Pujols breaks his single-season home run record.
Bonds said despite everything that's going on in his career, he's having more fun now playing baseball than he's ever had. And he credits his current teammates for that.
He said he wants to keep playing if his health allows it. He said winning a World Series still is his No. 1 goal, but he's not going to run from trying to break Aaron's record. He said he doesn't know if he can, but he's not going to run from it. He said he would probably break down and cry if that happened.
He said he tells his son that he needs to stop being angry and learn to forgive if he wants to avoid living through what Bonds himself is living through.