Report: Mitchell has asked to speak to Bonds

Updated: June 10, 2006, 11:20 AM ET news services

Between federal investigators and Major League Baseball, plenty of people have questions for Barry Bonds.

The New York Post reported Friday that Bonds' attorney, Michael Rains, received a letter last month from former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, hired by commissioner Bud Selig in March to investigate steroids in baseball, saying that he wants to interview the San Francisco Giants left fielder as part of baseball's investigation.

"They sent me a letter announcing the investigation and that they would want to talk to Barry at some future date," Rains told the newspaper. "They also said they would want some production of documents then."

Rains told the Post that he has advised Bonds to cooperate as much as he can legally.

FBI agents asked Barry Bonds' ex-girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, not to cooperate in Major League Baseball's steroid probe while a federal grand jury investigates whether the Giants slugger lied under oath about drug use. Bell has claimed that Bonds confided in her that he used steroids.

Attorney Martin Garbus said Friday that agents asked Bell not to assist former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell in the independent investigation he is heading.

"I would say they want to protect their own prosecution," Garbus said. "The consequence is, yes, they are impeding the Mitchell investigation."

The FBI declined to comment Friday and Mitchell did not immediately return calls for comment.

Garbus said Mitchell wrote him May 31 and demanded "that Ms. Bell cooperate with my independent investigation of alleged steroid and performance-enhancing drug use in major league baseball."

Bonds would be entitled to learn whatever the former girlfriend tells Mitchell, Garbus said. If that information conflicts with what she told federal authorities, Bonds could use it to undermine her credibility in court.

"She might say something that the feds would rather her not," Garbus said.

Garbus said he was mulling whether to keep his client mum or comply with Mitchell's demand.

Bonds' lawyer, Rains, also speculated agents want to keep Bell from talking to Mitchell because she could hinder their case with inconsistent answers.

"Maybe they realize when Kim Bell starts answering questions, it's gonna become clear that she first tried to extort Barry for money, that she changed her stories about various things and has changed it since then and will change it again," Rains said.

Rains said Bell allegedly "heard Barry talk about using things, noticed he had acne and was subject to mood swings." Acne and mood swings can be side effects of steroid use.

Rains said it was unlikely Bonds, who is second on the career home run list, would cooperate with Mitchell while a federal grand jury perjury probe continues, because federal agents could use those responses against him.

"I'm not frankly wanting to cooperate with the federal government these days," Rains said. "If his statement can be insulated from federal grand jury proceedings, I'd consider it. I don't think there is any way to do that."

The latest round of scrutiny comes in the wake of a search at pitcher Jason Grimsley's Scottsdale, Ariz., home on Tuesday.

Edward F. Novak, an attorney for Grimsley, told The Arizona Republic that the player was asked but refused to wear a listening device to gather incriminating evidence against Bonds. Neither Bonds, the Giants, nor Bonds' agent Rains would comment Thursday in response to the newspaper's report.

An affadavit in support of that raid said agents had tracked a package containing human growth hormone to Grimsley's house April 19 and confronted him at his door.

While Grimsley's lawyer said the right-hander disputes much of what was in the affidavit released Tuesday, he did not deny past use of performance-enhancing drugs. "He has admitted his past steroid use," Novak said.

The Diamondbacks released Grimsley Wednesday.

The raid -- and Grimsley's reported implication of other major league ballplayers -- was the latest sign that widespread investigations into drug use by athletes are still active, even in the era of tougher testing.

"Clearly," U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said, "we're not done."

A federal grand jury in San Francisco also is investigating whether Bonds lied under oath about using the performance-enhancing drug known as "the clear" during his grand jury testimony that led to the indictment of four people connected to BALCO.

Meanwhile, Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., chairman of the Commerce, Trade & Consumer Protection Subcommittee, said Friday that he was considering calling a hearing on the use of human growth hormone in sports.

The drug prescribed to spur growth in small children and help adults with pituitary problems is used illegally by athletes to boost energy and strength and can't be detected by baseball's urine tests.

"Once again we learn of the use of performance-enhancing drugs in major league baseball and the failure of MLB to rid the sport of drugs," Stearns said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.