Beltre finishes in second

ST. LOUIS -- As expected, Barry Bonds received the highest honor of his peers.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Giants outfielder was selected the Sporting News player of the year behind a record number of ballots cast by 552 major-league players.

Bonds, who surpassed 700 home runs, finished with the most walks in a season (232) and captured his second batting title (.362) in 2004. He received 169½ votes, way ahead of runner-up Adrian Beltre of the Los Angeles Dodgers (116).

"I am extremely thrilled to be the recipient of the Sporting News Player of the Year Award," said Bonds, who finished second to the St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols in 2003. "It is truly an honor to be recognized by my fellow players. I would like to thank the San Francisco Giants organization, my teammates, my family and especially the fans who give me such great support."

In other awards given away by the Sporting News on Tuesday, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox was named the National League manager of the year for the third consecutive season and a record seventh time. Leading his club to an unprecedented 13th consecutive NL East division title despite the free-agent losses of Greg Maddux and Javy Lopez, Cox got 7½ of a possible 16 votes from his fellow managers.

In the American League, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Texas Rangers skipper Buck Showalter tied for the AL manager of the year award with four votes each of a possible 14. Gardenhire led the Twins to their third straight Central Division title, while Showalter overcame the loss of Alex Rodriguez and a shaky pitching staff to mold the Rangers into a contender for the AL West crown.

Other award winners in the American League included Twins lefthander Johan Santana as pitcher of the year, Oakland Athletics shortstop Bobby Crosby as rookie of the year, Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox as comeback player and New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera as reliever of the year.

In the National League, Giants righthander Jason Schmidt captured the pitcher of the year award; rookie of the year honors went to Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jason Bay;
Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter got the comeback player award; and Los Angeles closer Eric Gagne was named reliever of the year.