Bonds calls Chronicle story 'flat-out lie'

Updated: July 10, 2004, 8:06 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds disputed a report Friday that claimed he will participate in the Home Run Derby at All-Star weekend because major league baseball gave him financial compensation.

The Giants slugger blasted the San Francisco Chronicle's story, calling it "flat-out wrong and a flat-out lie, period."

Though Bonds initially expressed trepidation about joining the home run-hitting contest, he agreed Thursday to join seven other sluggers in one of the event's most impressive fields.

Philadelphia's Jim Thome, Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. and the Cubs' Sammy Sosa will join Bonds on the NL team in Houston on Monday, with Texas' Hank Blalock, New York's Jason Giambi, Boston's David Ortiz and Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro on the AL team.

Bonds said he waited to commit to the contest until he was sure the other three active players with at least 500 home runs -- Sosa, Palmeiro and Griffey -- would participate. Bonds, Sosa and Griffey also comprise the NL's starting outfield, which features three 500-homer hitters for the first time.

"It's historical," Bonds said. "What's the chance of that ever happening again? I just wanted to make sure it was going to work out this way."

Bonds, who hit his 681st home run Wednesday night, participated in the 2002 home run contest, but skipped last season's event.

Baseball officials also disputed the report of compensation, saying no players receive money to participate in the contest.

"(Bonds) was treated in the same manner as every other participant," said Howard Smith, baseball's senior vice president of licensing.

"We are extremely grateful Barry recognizes the historic significance of this year's event and what his participation means to baseball fans. It is extremely disappointing to major league baseball and the San Francisco Giants that his intentions have been grossly misrepresented."

The San Francisco Chronicle printed an explanation of their report on Saturday, saying that Bonds said he'd agreed to appear in the Home Run Derby "after Major League Baseball agreed to compensate him for the day of rest he will lose by taking part." The newspaper insisted that the story did not suggest Bonds would be paid to play.

Smith told the Chronicle that Bonds didn't ask for compensation but did request a few perks for him and his family as they travel to Houston for the All-Star Game weekend -- and in getting those perks, Bonds isn't getting special treatment, Smith said.

"We're not going to treat a young player like Hank Blalock any differently than we're going to treat Barry Bonds," Smith told the newspaper. "Each player has unique needs. Some people are bringing in their families and might need a hotel room. But any player who comes to Houston, we're going to treat like that because these are the best players in the world."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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