SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds greeted fans for the first time this season Friday. Not at SBC Park, but at a downtown San Francisco charity event where he received a standing ovation.
The seven-time National League MVP gave fans a better reason to cheer: Bonds, who hinted 10 days ago he was unsure when, if ever, he would play again, said he is not retiring from the game.
Bonds did say, however, that he no longer wishes to speak to the media.
No word on how long that edict will last.
As for a timetable for his return, Bonds said Friday he's taking his rehab day to day, although the Giants are expected to put him on the 15-day disabled list Saturday. He's off crutches but walking with a noticeable limp, careful not to put a lot of weight on his knee.
Bonds is recovering from three knee operations in 5½ months, two on his troublesome right knee in a seven-week span. Stressed by the steroids scandal swirling around him, his health has him further on edge.
"I'm going to have to work a lot harder this year than I ever have," Bonds told The Associated Press. "I mean, at 40, I go to the gym, I work out, but unfortunately it's not staying as long sometimes. It's like my legs don't feel as strong. I feel strong for two or three days, but it's starting to go away faster."
Bonds might have caused his latest operation by pushing himself too hard to get back in a hurry, the same relentless determination that has brought him such success in 19 major league seasons.
He has 703 homers, trailing only Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755). When Bonds comes back, many expect he'll pass Ruth in little more than a month.
"Right away, definitely," Arizona outfielder Jose Cruz Jr., Bonds' teammate in 2003, said of how quickly the slugger will regain his swing. "He's gifted."
Bonds' teammates are prepared to play without him, no matter how long it takes for the slugger to recover.
"We've got to," center fielder Marquis Grissom said. "We've
got to use that as a positive and go out there and continue to get
better as a team. I think we'll prevail. We have enough to get it
done. Being a veteran team, we expect to get it done."
The Giants open the season Tuesday against the Dodgers at SBC Park.