Mitchell to begin interviewing active players

NEW YORK -- Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said he expects interviews with active players to begin promptly as part of his investigation into steroids in baseball.

Mitchell sent a letter to the players' association in late March requesting the interviews, which the union confirmed April 3. Lawyers for the union, commissioner's office and Mitchell's staff met later in April to discuss possible interviews, along with Mitchell's request for medical records.

"In the course of our work, we have gathered thousands of pages of documents and conducted hundreds of interviews of individuals with current or past connections to professional baseball, including many former players," Mitchell said Friday in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

"I have just recently requested that interviews of current players begin promptly, which is one of the final phases of our investigation. We expect to meet soon with the players whose interviews we have requested, but to the extent that we are not able to, we will deal with the issue at that time," he said.

One current player Mitchell won't be talking to soon is Barry Bonds. The New York Times reported that according to a person familiar with Mitchell's probe, the San Francisco Giants outfielder, now 13 home runs shy of breaking Hank Aaron's home run record, will not be asked to meet with Mitchell in the near term.

Bonds, still facing a federal investigation in the BALCO case, will not speak to Mitchell unless he's assured he won't risk incriminating himself, his attorney told the Times.

"I told my client, there's not a chance in the world you will make a statement directly to the government, or indirectly, through the Mitchell investigation, unless the federal government gets off your back," Rains told the Times.

Rains told the newspaper he still expects Bonds to be called upon by the Mitchell investigation "down the road" because he expects everyone in the BALCO case to be called. He said Bonds would only cooperate if federal prosecutors promise to end their investigation of Bonds.

Mitchell may also gain evidence that federal prosecutors have gathered in their case against former New York Mets bat boy Kirk Radomski, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Radomski, who pleaded guilty to felony charges of distributing steroids and laundering money, has agreed to cooperate with the ongoing federal steroids investigation, as well as Mitchell's inquiry.

The 37-year-old has admitted providing steroids, human growth hormone, amphetamines and other drugs to "dozens of current and former Major League Baseball players and associates," U.S. Attorney Scott Schools said in a statement.

"Are documents, et cetera, going to be turned over?" assistant U.S. attorney Matt Parrella was quoted as saying by the Post. "That's part of the concept, but I can't lay out a schedule or roster of documents. We will make an evaluation item by item."

Mitchell also wouldn't specify what data he hopes to receive.

"I am committed to completing the remaining work and to issuing the report as soon as possible," he said in Friday's e-mail to the AP. "With regard to Mr. Radomski, I have stated that we look forward to working with federal law enforcement toward our shared goal of dealing effectively with illegal performance-enhancing drug use in baseball. Our work in that regard is only one aspect of the broader effort in this investigation."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.