Giants brace for media circus
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Felipe Alou understands there will be even more attention on his team this spring because of the steroid suspicion surrounding Barry Bonds.
The San Francisco skipper is prepared for it, and ready to stick by his slugger.
"If you're good, you're good -- whether it is the era of the steroids, or the cigars, or the hot dog, or the beer, or the amphetamine, or the red juice or the whiskey,'' Alou said Thursday, when Giants pitchers and catchers reported to spring training. "They're still good.''
Bonds isn't even due in camp until next week, and isn't expected to play in games until at least mid-March as he recovers from knee surgery, but the seven-time NL MVP is always the focus as the season begins.
Especially now, in the wake of Jose Canseco's new book that alleges steroid use by a handful of his former teammates.
"Barry is Barry. He's been through it,'' Alou said. "He's been through the death of Bobby, his dad, along with the steroid stuff. I expect for him to just show up and swing the bat and hit. ...
"I don't think it's going to be a distraction. I know that this group of players here are tested -- not for steroids -- they are tested more along the lines of all of these distractions. It didn't bother them before.''
The 40-year-old Bonds, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, testified to a grand jury in December 2003 that he used a clear substance and a cream given to him by a trainer who was indicted in a steroid-distribution ring, but said he didn't know they were steroids.
Bonds enters the season with 703 career homers, trailing only Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on the career list. Bonds drew 232 walks last season, 34 more than the record he set in 2002 and more than 100 better than anyone in baseball. His 120 intentional walks shattered the old mark of 68 that he set in 2002.
Now, everyone's asking about the legacy he will leave -- will it be tainted?
"I can't be a judge,'' Alou said. "It's a big topic. ... I believe only in the word of people. You can't take away performance of players. ... Some of the guys that have been accused or related to it, they're down the (toilet).
"A guy like Bonds, for whatever reason, this guy continued to play a bunch of games last year, steal a base, dive for a ball here and there, and hit home runs, walk, and maintain tremendous discipline at the plate.''
Bonds underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Feb. 1, but is expected to recover in plenty of time to resume his chase of Aaron's home run record when the season kicks off in April.
Trainer Stan Conte spoke to Bonds' doctor in Los Angeles on Thursday, and said it sounded as if the rehabilitation on the knee is going as planned.
"Hopefully on April 8, after he's played three games, people won't remember he had a scope,'' Conte said.
Bonds teammates aren't concerned about their star player's health or focus.
"We feed off of him. It doesn't bother him, and it's not going to bother us,'' said second baseman Ray Durham, who arrived in camp early to work out with Conte. "We have a job to do, and we're going to go out and do it. There are going to be distractions besides steroids. ... You've just got to keep playing. It's going to get old, but like other stuff, it's going to die down and we'll go on with our lives.''
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press