Bonds says he’s ‘proud’ of friend Mark McGwire

Home run king Barry Bonds said he is “proud” of slugger Mark

McGwire for returning to baseball as the St. Louis Cardinals’

hitting coach and for admitting his use of performance-enhancing

drugs.

“I have a really good friendship with Mark McGwire. I’m proud

of him,” Bonds said Sunday. “We’ve had a great relationship

throughout our entire lives and throughout our career. I’m proud of

what he did. I’m happy for him.”

While Bonds didn’t rule out also going into coaching one day,

his six-minute session with the media was stopped after the

question about McGwire.

In January, McGwire ended more than a decade of denials and

evasion and finally acknowledged he used steroids and human growth

hormone during his career, including in 1998 when he hit 70 home

runs and broke the single-season record.

Bonds, who topped that mark when he hit 73 homers in 2001, has

long denied ever knowingly using steroids or performance-enhancers

in his pursuit of the career home run record – arguably the most

prized record in all of American sports.

Bonds was indicted on charges he lied in 2003 to a federal grand

jury investigating BALCO, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, and

obstructed justice.

McGwire was told of Bonds’ comments in Milwaukee, where the

Cardinals were playing the Brewers.

“It’s very cool. Barry is a great player, was a great player in

this game, many MVPs,” McGwire said. “The guy could do it all. It

makes me feel really good. It’s really cool to be back in the game.

… I’m a big boy, I understand that things happen in your life and

you’ve got to confront them, and you also have to move on from them

and learn from them.”

The 45-year-old Bonds, back in the Bay Area for a reunion at

AT&T Park of the Giants’ 2000 NL West champion team, said he

doesn’t believe now is the right time to retire. Though he also

insists he’s not in shape to play immediately if an interested club

came calling.

“I don’t have any plans at all,” he said of trying to play

again. “No, it’s not necessary at the moment (to retire). The

timing isn’t that important.”

Bonds arrived separately – and more than an hour later – from

other members of the 2000 team and walked hand in hand with

11-year-old daughter, Aisha.

“This is weird. Where are the big guys?” Rich Aurilia asked of

Bonds and Jeff Kent, whose flight was delayed because of bad

weather.

Bonds, dressed in a dark pinstriped suit and orange paisley tie,

had a heavy security presence around him of police officers and

ballpark officials.

It was a flashback to a few years earlier, when Bonds was

trailed everywhere by reporters and fans. On Sunday, he signed some

15 autographs on his way into the ballpark then was driven around

on an electric cart. He disappeared into a freight elevator to be

taken to the reception with his former teammates.

“They got me in a freight elevator. That’s the first time,”

the slugger said, sporting a huge smile.

Bonds later got in the broadcast booth.

This winter in Florida, he worked with Phillies slugger Ryan

Howard on his swing.

“I coached him a little bit and he’s doing very, very well and

hasn’t said one thing about me yet,” Bonds said with a chuckle.

“But I love him and I’m glad he’s doing well.”

He appeared to be in great shape and said he is down to about

225 pounds from his playing weight of 238.

“I’ve just been working out a lot, that’s all. I work out all

the time,” Bonds said. “It’s been in my genes my whole life. I

just don’t work out as hard anymore. I don’t lift as heavy weights

anymore to be bulky. I don’t know, I’ve got that Hollywood

look.”

The seven-time NL MVP broke Hank Aaron’s home run record on Aug.

7, 2007, and has 762 career shots. Bonds has made only a handful of

public appearances in San Francisco since the Giants decided not to

bring him back following that special 2007 season.

Bonds isn’t sure what he would do if a team called him to play

now, saying, “I would have to work out a little harder to give you

any formal consideration.”

“It goes by quick. The sports world eventually comes to an

end,” Bonds said. “Your body can only do so much. Just be

grateful for the time you have. I’m very grateful. … I’m

thankful.”

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AP Sports Writer Colin Fly in Milwaukee contributed to this

story.