Deep inside their off-the-record hearts, you know the folks who run Major League Baseball just want Barry Bonds to go away.
But if they thought a full-scale steroid investigation might cause Bonds to vanish into the mist, they'd better think of a good Plan B, because Bonds isn't going anywhere.
This investigation "is not going to cause Barry to retire," his agent, Jeff Borris, told ESPN.com Thursday night. "Barry won't retire until his skills decline to the point where he's not able to play at the highest level. But right now, that's not the case."
It's true that Bonds missed the last week of spring training with elbow issues. It's also true that he went to the plate only 19 times all spring. But that actually puts him way ahead of where he was before his first game last season, Borris said.
"Look at last year," Borris said. "He had three knee surgeries. He had no spring training. He had no rehab assignment. And he still came back and hit five home runs in 14 games.
"And look at what he did in spring training this year. He went 10 for 16 [.625], with four homers -- and a sacrifice bunt [plus two walks]. So obviously, Barry has shown he can still compete at the highest level and be as good as ever."
It would be hard to believe that the MLB investigation headed by George Mitchell isn't gnawing at Bonds off the field. But why, Borris asked, would anyone think it would bother him on the field?
"He's always had the weight of the world on his shoulders," Borris said. "But when he steps on the field, he's got tunnel vision."
Now, more than ever, he may need it -- with a major investigation, two books, the BALCO grand jury and the IRS all kicking his tires. But the bigger the heat in the past, the better he has played baseball. So who knows what he might do this time around?
Borris declined comment on reports that Bonds doesn't intend to cooperate with the Mitchell investigation. However, there have been indications that all the players who have been linked to the BALCO case may decline to speak to baseball's investigators, on the grounds that baseball is interfering in a federal investigation.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com