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Leyland on Bonds: 'Let the guy alone'

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Barry Bonds' first major league manager
believes the San Francisco slugger is being unfairly singled out
for his alleged use of steroids.

Jim Leyland, now in his first year as Tigers skipper, managed
Bonds for seven years with the Pittsburgh Pirates before the
slugger left as a free agent to join the San Francisco Giants for
the 1993 season.

Bonds is at the center of the steroids controversy that has
heightened following last month's release of "Game of Shadows,'' a
book by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters detailing Bonds'
alleged longtime regimen for using a variety of
performance-enhancing drugs.

"I think that's a shame,'' Leyland said Tuesday in an interview
with The Associated Press before Detroit opened a three-game series
against the Oakland Athletics. "Let the guy alone. I guess there
weren't rules. I don't know what happened. I don't care what
happened. This is a hands down go-after-Barry-Bonds thing.''

The 41-year-old Bonds, who entered Tuesday's game at Arizona
still stuck on 708 home runs and batting 5-for-26 (.192) so far
this season, has always denied taking performance-enhancing drugs.
But a federal grand jury is now investigating whether Bonds
committed perjury when he testified in 2003 that he never used
steroids.

The panel has been hearing evidence for more than a month about
whether Bonds lied to a different grand jury that was investigating
the BALCO scandal. Dr. Arthur Ting, Bonds' personal surgeon, has
been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury investigating
possible perjury charges, and the San Francisco Chronicle reported
Giants' trainer Stan Conte also will testify.

In addition, commissioner Bud Selig last month appointed former
Sen. George Mitchell to lead an investigation of steroid use in
baseball in recent years, but Selig has emphasized the probe is not
directed only at Bonds.

Leyland would like to see equal questioning of players believed
to have taken steroids to boost their performances and not just
Bonds, who is struggling to hit because of an elbow injury and to
move well because of his surgically repaired right knee.

The authors of "Game of Shadows'' wrote that Bonds began using
steroids because he was jealous of the attention paid to Mark
McGwire's home run race with Sammy Sosa in 1998.

Steroids weren't banned under baseball's joint drug agreement
until after the 2002 season.

As a rookie in Pittsburgh, Bonds weighed 185 pounds. Now, he's
somewhere around 240.

"He's my friend and he will always be my friend,'' Leyland
said. "I'm certainly not indicating I would defend him. But I get
sick of hearing about it. They're single-handedly going after Barry
Bonds.''