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Wednesday, June 19
Updated: June 20, 1:59 PM ET
 
Bonds says he'll take matters into his own hands

ESPN.com news services

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the wake of the latest pitcher to throw near him -- Tampa Bay's Travis Harper, who buzzed Barry Bonds on Tuesday night -- Bonds says he'll take matters into his own hands.

Bonds

"If our pitchers ain't going to do it, I'll defend myself," Bonds told the San Francisco Chronicle after Tuesday's 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay. Harper threw a fastball behind Bonds' knees, nearly hitting him.

Asked if he felt that Giants pitchers weren't protecting him enough, Bonds told the Chronicle: "Ask them."

Said one Giants pitcher to the newspaper: "Is that what he said?" before walking away.

Said another: "I don't care what he said."

Harper hit the Giants' Marvin Benard to start the ninth inning. Two batters later, he threw a 1-2 fastball that forced Bonds to move forward to get out of the way.

Bonds walked slowly toward the mound, pointing his finger at Harper. Both benches emptied but there was no further incident.

Bonds has been hit by pitches six times this season.

"I just had a lot of buildup. That's all," Bonds said later. "Too many balls have been thrown at me in one year, and that's enough. I just couldn't take it anymore. It probably wasn't an intentional pitch. When balls get thrown at you quite a bit, eventually you're going to get upset.

The most notorious incident came two weeks ago, when Roger Clemens said he planned to ''introduce'' himself to the large protective plate Bonds wears on his right elbow. Clemens then hit Bonds on the elbow during San Francisco's interleague showdown with the Yankees.

''I'm not like that usually, but I couldn't take it anymore,'' Bonds said. ''It probably wasn't an intentional pitch. I know (Devil Rays manager Hal) McRae, but when that many balls get thrown at you, you get upset. I'm not allowing people to throw darts at me. That's all. I just snapped.''

The day after the incident, the Giants closed ranks about the subject on the orders of manager Dusty Baker.

''We're going to keep it in-house,'' Baker said repeatedly before Wednesday night's game against the Devil Rays. ''That's really all that's going on.''

Pitching coach Dave Righetti understandably might have been irked by Bonds' comments, which seemed to question the loyalty of Bonds' teammates, but Righetti wouldn't say so.

''I thought about it last night, but I didn't want to say anything until I'd had a chance to think about it,'' Righetti said. ''No matter what I say about it is going to end up being negative for the team. I guess it's just kind of no comment. I care about my job, and I care about the organization.

''It's just one of those things that I want to keep in-house.''

Several Giants pitchers also declined comment.

Bonds has made similar complaints in previous seasons, but his most recent comments were an unusual insight into a murky slice of baseball culture.

Though massive anecdotal evidence suggests it's standard procedure for a pitching staff to retaliate for inside pitches, it's nearly impossible to get anyone to publicly admit or discuss it. Most players and managers fear fines and suspensions.

Last season, Milwaukee manager Davey Lopes was suspended for two games after threatening to order one of his pitchers to throw at San Diego's Rickey Henderson in retaliation for stealing a base during a blowout victory.

Last week, Oakland right-hander Tim Hudson threw an inside pitch that sent Bonds spiraling out of the way. Later in the game, Jason Schmidt threw a pitch near Hudson's chin. Both pitchers said the throws weren't intended to injure.

Bonds had done nothing remarkable in Tuesday night's game, however.

''I'm not trying to hit him, especially with an 8-3 lead, but the natural reaction is to do what he did,'' Harper said. ''That's fine. He's got to understand what I'm trying to do, and it's not to hit him.''

Information from the Associated Press is included in this report




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