Bonds returns to Bay Area for knee checkup

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Barry Bonds returned to the Bay area on
Wednesday to have his surgically repaired right knee evaluated by
the doctor who performed the operation.

The San Francisco Giants called it a postoperative visit with
Art Ting, who performed the procedure Jan. 31. The meeting was "to
assess the next stage of his rehabilitation program," the team said in a statement.

Giants trainer Stan Conte said Bonds is expected back in camp on
Thursday, and that the visit will determine the next step in the
seven-time MVPs rehabilitation. Bonds has yet to appear in a spring training game and no timetable has been set.

"Dr. Ting wanted to have a look at Barry's knees to see how
he's progressing," Conte said. "I would have preferred that he go
slower than he has, but the rehab basically has been up to Barry."

Bonds stepped up the process last week with more intense batting
practice, more running and some agility drills before backing off
over the weekend. Manager Felipe Alou speculated Bonds may see game action after this weekend, but is only concerned about his cleanup hitter
being ready by Opening Day, April 5.

"We thought it would be important for Dr. Ting to actually look
at the knee, evaluate it and tell us where to go next in the rehab
program as we start to progress," Conte said. "We don't expect
anything earth-shattering. I just felt it was important for Dr.
Ting to actually look at the knee and look at the patient, which is
a typical thing to do."

Bonds hasn't worked out on the field since taking batting practice Sunday. The 40-year-old slugger, third on the career home run list with 703, had hoped to be playing in exhibition games by mid-March.

"I'm just trying to get in that lineup by Opening Day," Bonds, in a missive on his Web site posted Tuesday, said. "If I can get in the lineup by Opening Day, I'll take my spring training month in April. I can do it even if I don't play an inning this spring.

Bonds spent Tuesday afternoon in the training room and didn't work out on the field. He said his recovery is taking "a little longer" than expected.

"Stan Conte said the other day that I might be three to four weeks away from full strength. If you're talking about a 21-year-old, probably. At my age, it's not that easy right now," Bonds said.

Bonds also said his work is focused on strengthening his quad and hamstring to alleviate pressure on the knee joint.

"They might have to pull me out of the game early. I might have to play one day and take off the next day. That way, May through October will actually be my season. That's where I'm at right now. It's not definite at this point, but it could happen. I always think the worst and if I do better, it's a plus."

San Francisco plays the Mariners on Wednesday in Peoria, Ariz.

"One of the things I've said from the beginning is that he doesn't need a whole lot of competition," Conte told reporters. "He still has time to make Opening Day."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.