…or, Certified Mail For Randy Velarde!  From the New York Times’ Juliet Macur and David Sanger.

The chairman of the special commission set up to examine the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball said for the first time yesterday that he had asked a number of active players to appear before the commission, a move that represents a major turning point in the yearlong investigation.

The former Senator George J. Mitchell of Maine (above), who is overseeing a team of lawyers and investigators working on the case, declined to say how many players had been sent letters requesting their appearance.

But others familiar with elements of the investigation said they believed at least three dozen current and former players were being sought by the panel. The prospect of any number of elite players™ being linked to the steroid issue would throw Major League Baseball into considerable turmoil only a month into the season, as players turn to hiring lawyers rather than focusing on hitting and pitching.

Barry Bonds™s lawyer, Michael Rains, said in an interview that Mr. Bonds would decline to speak to the panel if he would risk incriminating himself.

The investigation has left baseball in the uncomfortable position of trying to decide how to celebrate the moment if and when Mr. Bonds breaks Mr. Aaron™s record; it is highly unlikely that the questions surrounding his actions will be resolved by the time that homer is hit.

Mr. Rains said that he still expected Mr. Bonds to receive a letter from Mr. Mitchell œdown the road, because he anticipated that the Mitchell investigation would seek to talk to everyone involved in the Balco case. But he said that Mr. Bonds would cooperate with Mr. Mitchell™s group only if federal prosecutors promised to end the investigation of Mr. Bonds.

œI 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, Mr. Rains said in an interview Thursday.

I don’t mean to nitpick, as it would be irresponsible for the Times to run the above story with nary a mention of the Sultan.  But considering that Macur and Sanger themselves claim that Barry “will most likely not be asked to meet with the panel soon,” we might as well see a quote from Roger Clemens’ lawyer, too.