Bonds says he might not play this season

Updated: March 23, 2005, 9:52 AM ET
Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Barry Bonds' chase of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron will have to wait -- and maybe for a while.

Two knee operations and baseball's steroids scandal have taken a toll on the San Francisco Giants' slugger, who said he may not play this season.

Saying he was physically and mentally "done," Bonds blamed intense media scrutiny for at least part of his troubles.

Sitting at a picnic table outside the Giants' clubhouse Tuesday with his 15-year-old son, Nikolai, Bonds told reporters: "My son and I are just going to enjoy our lives. You guys wanted to hurt me bad enough, you finally got me."

When asked to whom he was referring, Bonds looked at the reporters around him and said calmly, "You, you, you, you, you, you -- the media, everybody. You finally got there."

Later, Bonds said, "I'm tired of my kids crying. You wanted me to jump off a bridge, I finally did. You finally brought me and my family down. ... So now go pick a different person."

Bonds, whose 703 career homers are 11 short of Ruth's total and 52 behind Hank Aaron's record, was back in camp Tuesday following arthroscopic surgery last week on his right knee.

He said he was tired -- repeatedly -- and disappointed following a winter in which he was accused of steroid use, his grand jury testimony was leaked and he had two knee operations.

Teammates Moises Alou and Jason Christiansen, who have both come back from operations, said Bonds probably was just feeling down when he made his remarks.

New York Yankees manager Joe Torre thought so, too.

"When you don't feel good, there are a lot of things that take on a different perspective. If it's not fun for him, I don't think the record will be as satisfying," Torre said in Tampa, Fla. "Probably when he starts feeling better, I think maybe he'll change his thinking."

Bonds leaned his head on a crutch, looking grim at times, smiling at others, as he talked following a 1 1/2-hour session with Giants trainer Stan Conte.

"Right now, I'm just going to try to rehab myself to get back to, I don't know, hopefully next season, hopefully the middle of the season," Bonds said. "I don't know. Right now, I'm just going to take things slow.

"I'm 40 years old, not 20, 30."

Bonds, who set the single-season record with 73 home runs in 2001, underwent a similar operation on the same knee on Jan. 31, but had a setback after workouts in camp earlier this month.

He returned to the Bay Area on March 16 and had surgery last Thursday to repair cartilage. Conte said afterward that the second operation put Bonds back at "square one."

When Bonds had his first operation this offseason, Conte had said he was expected to be sidelined for six weeks.

After Tuesday's session with Bonds, Conte said Bonds went through a "normal rehab six days out of surgery" and that his knee looked as expected.

"I expect he'll progress as knee patients go," the trainer said, offering no prediction of when the seven-time NL MVP might be able to play again.

Manager Felipe Alou said it's not a rosy situation for Bonds.

"It's tough to have surgery two weeks before the season starts. That's not what anybody wants," the manager said.

Christiansen, who had to come back from reconstructive elbow surgery, knows rehab periods can be disheartening.

"There have been five or six times I've come in and said, `I don't need this heartache any more.' It's a series of peaks and valleys," he said. "A week from now, Barry could turn around and say he'll be ready by April 5."

Christiansen realizes there's considerably more focus on Bonds.

"I couldn't imagine what he goes through on a daily basis, reading some of the stuff and hearing what people say about him. It's pretty much a circus," Christiansen said.

Moises Alou, who has had five operations in his career, said: "Maybe today he was not very optimistic. I think it was one of those rehab days where you just caught him on one of the bad days.

"It's not fun when you come to the ballpark, then have to go to the training room to get taped and get treatment. It's not as fun as when you are young and wild and doing things, especially when you are the man."

If Bonds doesn't play this season, the Giants still owe him his $18 million salary. In September, they dropped a provision that would have allowed them to void his salary in 2006 if he failed to reach 500 plate appearances this year or 1,500 combined from 2003 to 2005, including at least 400 this season.

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Rick Eymer, a stringer for The Associated Press, contributed to this report.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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