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Setback means Bonds may miss Opening Day

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds pushed his surgically repaired
right knee so hard that the San Francisco Giants became concerned
he might be doing too much. Yet, after 19 major league seasons, the
team trusted Bonds knows his body best.

But on Thursday, Bonds underwent a second operation on the knee
-- a setback that makes it unlikely the slugger will be ready for
opening day.

While the Giants offered no timetable for Bonds' return, it took
the seven-time NL MVP more time than expected to recover from the
original surgery on the knee on Jan. 31.

"This is certainly a setback, and a significant one," general
manager Brian Sabean said. "Obviously, we didn't know we were
going to go down this path. Barry did what he felt he could
tolerate on any given day. I'm glad this happened now instead of
three days before the season."

Trainer Stan Conte said he could not rule out the possibility of
Bonds being ready for the opener on April 5 against the Dodgers,
but said it is "not an unreasonable thing" to assume he'll be
sidelined past that date.

"It would be pretty incredible, but I've learned with Barry I
never say he can't do something," Conte said from spring training
at Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona.

The Giants said in a statement that Bonds had arthroscopic
surgery to repair tears in the knee, similar to his earlier
operation. Both procedures were performed in the Bay Area by Art
Ting.

Bonds, 40, has "experienced periods of swelling in his knee
following an incident when he accidentally hit his knee on a table
at SBC Park Feb. 4. Neither rest nor his current rehabilitation
program has helped alleviate the periodic swelling," the Giants
said in a release.

"It was a big blow to begin with and now it's a bigger blow,"
manager Felipe Alou said before the Giants played the Rangers in an
exhibition game. "Now it's real, he's going to be out."

Conte said the swelling initially was considered a normal part
of Bonds' recovery, but when it wouldn't go away he knew something
was wrong.

Bonds returned to San Francisco on Wednesday from spring
training to be evaluated by Ting, and the process took all day,
Conte said. An MRI showed "new tears that had to be addressed."

"One reason we were so tightlipped is because the process took
all day yesterday and into the night to get the results," Conte
said. "We had to talk about options and we made the decision last
night. Bonds made the final decision.

"This was a necessary procedure to get him back. The new tears
had to happen after the original surgery. His knee would swell, we
would take a couple of days and he'd be fine. It's not unusual in
rehabbing. We felt it was a normal process."

Bonds hasn't worked out on the field since taking batting
practice Sunday. He hasn't played in any Cactus League games.

Bonds begins the season with 703 homers, third on the career
list behind Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755).

"I think it's pretty crushing," said Moises Alou, who will bat
cleanup until Bonds returns and might move over from right field to
take Bonds' spot in left. "Everybody knows Barry is the heart and
soul of this team. We have to have someone step up and do the job.
We need to stay above water until Barry gets back."

Bonds underwent his most strenuous workout of the spring last
Thursday, taking seven rounds of batting practice. He hit 10 home
runs on some 80 swings, sprinted for short bursts on the warning
track and did football-style agility drills between cones in right
field.
But he hasn't done much work since.
"If Barry makes April 5, there's only one person to pat on the
back, and that's Barry Bonds," Conte said after Bonds' big
workout. "When he gets back on the field and does great, it'll be
because of him. He knows his body and is doing what he thinks is
right. I'm simply making suggestions."