STATELINE, Nev. (AP) -A pair of Hall of Fame catchers who hit their share of home runs have different takes on Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's all-time record.
Johnny Bench and Gary Carter said Bonds' chase for 755 is good for baseball, but they part ways when it comes to the role steroids may have played in his success.
``Barry's going to break the record, and it's phenomenal,'' said Bench, who hit 389 home runs in his career with the Cincinnati Reds to rank 48th on the career list.
``To think he can walk over 200 times a year and do the things he does. And he was a Gold Glove outfielder. He didn't do that by taking (steroids). He was just a great athlete,'' he said.
Carter, an 11-time All-Star who hit 324 homers, said Bonds has had ``a great career,'' but questions if he could have gotten so big without performance-enhancing drugs.
``I saw him when he first broke in. He was a scrawny, skinny, 185-pound guy that had great talent. And then he turned himself into a freakin' power hitter with, what, 245, 250 pounds, and his head got twice the size. So, you know, you figure it out,'' he said.
``I know he likes to go to the gym. We all like to go to the gym. You just don't get that big,'' he said.
Bench, who played in the same group with Carter this weekend at the American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament at Lake Tahoe, doesn't understand why Bonds is being singled out when there are so many players who have been accused of taking steroids.
``They still haven't found him guilty of anything,'' Bench said.
``Have there been guys who are probably guilty? Probably so. And your wife has probably had a face lift or (breast implants) or a tummy tuck. We're all trying to do performance enhancement every day. Tiger Woods got lasik surgery. Is that performance enhancing?''
``If I could take HGH, I would in a heartbeat because I want to live longer,'' said Bench, who turns 60 in December and has a 15-month-old son. ``I want to be as good as I can possibly be.''
Bench admits that steroids give a player an advantage on the field.
``Of course it's an advantage. And the bats are an advantage and they moved the ballpark fences in. These guys are strong. And hell, I hit 45 home runs that one year and I felt like I could have hit 60, but now the guys are so much stronger,'' he said.
Bench, who played in 14 All-Star games, said it's difficult to compare today's players to those of the past because so many things have changed.
``We're second-class citizens now, our era. Our records are bygone,'' he said.
``They're making $15 million or $20 million a year. I made $11,000 my first year. I was rookie of the year and made $20,000, was MVP and made $40,000, was MVP again and made $80,000. So I'm only like $19,920,000 behind.
``There are guys out there who make two All-Star games and they've got their own planes flying back East. I'm trying to drive to Reno to get the 6:45 a.m. Delta so I can change planes and go to Orlando,'' he said.

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