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Recent MRI showed more swelling in right knee

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds' quest for the career home run
record will likely be stalled until 2006, raising doubts about
whether he'll ever pass Hank Aaron's mark.

The San Francisco Giants slugger said Monday he doesn't expect
to play this season because of an injured right knee that has been
operated on three times since Jan. 31.

"I don't think you're going to see me out there this year,"
Bonds told MLB.com. "That's the reality of the situation. I'm
improving. I'm happy with the progress. I'm working out hard on the
exercise bike and the elliptical machine, but I'm just not there
yet. The last thing I want is to get back on the field and be out
again a week later."

Bonds, who turned 41 last month, has 703 home runs, third on the
career list behind Babe Ruth (714) and Aaron (755). Carlton Fisk's
53 homers are the most any player has hit after turning 41, and
that is exactly the number Bonds needs to break Aaron's record.

Bonds will have to do it after missing an entire season and with
a knee that might never be 100 percent again. But he has often
defied the odds, setting the single-season homer record with 73 in
2002 and shattering other slugging records that had stood since
Ruth dominated the game more than 70 years ago.

Bonds has been rehabbing at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in
Los Angeles under the care of physical therapist Clive Brewster and
longtime Angels orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum.

The Giants issued a statement Tuesday from Yocum, saying the
doctor was pleased with Bonds' rehabilitation.

"I have seen improvement in terms of weight, strength and
functional activities," Yocum said. "While some swelling remains
in the knee, it is minimal and not unusual for this level of
activity. At this point, I cannot give a definitive answer to when
or if he will play in 2005."

Bonds said a recent MRI showed some fluid building up in the
knee, and that doctors advised him to wait until next year to
return to the Giants.

"He has not informed the Giants of that decision," assistant
general manager Ned Colletti told The Associated Press.

Giants spokesman Jim Moorehead said general manager Brian Sabean
would have no further comment until he got more information from
doctors.

Bonds' publicist, Rachael Vizcarra, said Tuesday she had not
talked to Bonds about the report.

Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said he had not spoken to the slugger Monday but suggested any decision by Bonds not to play this season would not be an easy one.

"I know that not being in the lineup like this is killing him," Borris told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Just last month, Bonds was optimistic when he joined the team
briefly during a road trip in Los Angeles. On his personal Web site
two weeks ago, Bonds wrote he was hopeful he could return in
September.

But Bonds told MLB.com that an MRI performed last week by Dr.
Arthur Ting showed more swelling in the knee.

"The doctors say it's wise for me to work out hard this winter
and be ready to go next season," Bonds said. "I want to be out
there and play the whole year.

"I'm just going to listen to what the doctors tell me. The
doctors are telling me to let it heal, so I'm going to let it
heal."

Bonds now hopes to be ready for Opening Day in 2006, the final
season of his contract with the Giants.

"That's what my goal is right now and I expect to be ready,"
he said. "But the doctors are telling me playing this year might
put that in jeopardy, that I could undo any gains I've already
made. No matter how much I want to play, I'm not going to let that
happen."

The Giants (45-59) have struggled without Bonds, but are still
only 5½ games behind Arizona and San Diego in the weak NL West. The
Giants hoped their star slugger could return in time to help them
make a playoff push.

"I know I could help if I was out there," he said. "This is
my life. This is my career -- on the baseball field. But right now,
I can't help and it's killing me."

Bonds batted .362 last season with 45 homers and 101 RBIs and
walked a major league-record 232 times on the way to his record
seventh MVP award.

His most recent operation was May 2 to drain fluid and examine
an infection.