SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Barry Bonds' decision about whether he
plays next season might not come until next winter.
But he made one thing clear when he reported to spring training
with the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday -- if he does play in
2007, he doesn't want it to be as a designated hitter for some new
team. He wants it to be with the team he grew up around and in the
same uniform he has worn while becoming the game's biggest star
over the last decade.
"San Francisco is my home. That's the love of my life right
there," Bonds said. "The fans there, the people there, everything
about it is just great for me. Thinking that there could be a
possibility, just hypothetically, to go somewhere else and DH or
something like that. I really don't want to think about that at
this time right now. I know I can swing a bat. I take a lot of
pride to be on that field and stay in this uniform."
Bonds has often talked about the wear and tear that playing in
the field and being on base so much takes on his knees, leading to
speculation that he might follow the path of a player like Hank
Aaron and switch leagues at the end of his career in order to be a
Bonds has even complained in the past when he didn't get to DH
in interleague games in American League stadiums. His manager
admits that Bonds is not the same defensively but still among the
best hitters in the game.
"I see a guy with a quick bat. I don't see the end here,"
Felipe Alou said. "I compare the guy with Hank Aaron, who could
hit a fastball to the end."
Comparisons to Aaron are appropriate as Bonds chases the
Hammer's home run record of 755 -- the final 22 of which came in
Aaron's final two seasons, when he was primarily a designated
hitter with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bonds enters the season with 708 home runs, seven shy of passing
Babe Ruth for second place and 48 shy of breaking Aaron's record.
Like Aaron, Ruth also switched teams at the end of his career,
playing 28 games with the Boston Braves in 1935.
Since Bonds has only hit 48 or more home runs twice in his
career, it seems unlikely he would pass Aaron this season.
"The record is what it is," Bonds said. "The record is Hank's
record as far as I'm concerned. It's still Hank's record until
somebody passes it. Whoever that person, I wish them well. If it
happens to be me, that's it."
Bonds arrived at Scottsdale Stadium shortly before 8 a.m.
Wednesday and went straight to his corner locker. At the end of
last season, Bonds vowed to be "skinny" when he showed up at
spring training, but it didn't appear he lost much weight, if any.
Bonds took part in a nearly complete workout, stretching with
his teammates, throwing, shagging flies and hitting in the batting
cage before taking three rounds of batting practice off Jason
Schmidt and Noah Lowry.
With a bulky brace on his injured right knee, Bonds took his
first 11 pitches and hit only one ball hard -- a home run to right
field against Schmidt.
Bonds exclaimed "Ouch! That hurt," and then shook his hands
after hitting the homer on a cool morning, with the temperature in
the 50s. In all, he took 17 pitches, had two swings and misses, two
grounders, four balls hit into the netting of the batting cage and
the one home run.
After having three knee operations and playing only 14 games
last year, the Giants are eager to learn what they can expect from
Bonds this season. Bonds said it was too early to know if he'd be
ready to play in the Giants' opener April 3 in San Diego.
"Last year, I saw him favoring his knees," Alou said. "I
didn't see him favoring the knee today. I didn't see it when he was
batting. When he was swinging the bat, it was OK with me."
Bonds' arrival was greeted by scores of media members, who drew
bemused looks from other Giants who watched them gather around an
empty seat in the dugout waiting for Bonds.
This year's question-and-answer session was much less
contentious than last year's, when he dodged questions about
steroids and called reporters liars. He talked for about 15 minutes
Wednesday, remaining calm throughout the entire process.
"I only throw a stone if there's a stone thrown at me," he
said. "As long as there's not a stone thrown at me, you won't get
one thrown back."
Bonds, 41, has already caused a stir this spring with
contradicting interviews he gave in the past week about whether he
would or wouldn't retire after the season. Bonds, who is in the
final season of a $90 million, five-year contract, did little to
clear up his future Wednesday.
"I've played a long time," he said. "I've had a lot of fun
doing it. We'll tackle that bridge when it happens. I'll sit back
and talk with my family and take a long, long vacation and see how
I feel. I could do that and get in the wintertime and say, 'That's
enough,' and somewhere in January wake up and say, 'That's not