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Magowan 'saddened' by steroid scandal

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- San Francisco Giants owner Peter
Magowan wishes Barry Bonds had been less combative in his news
conference earlier this week that dealt mostly with questions about
steroids.

Magowan wasn't in town for Bonds' annual session with the media
Tuesday, but read about it while in Europe for a business meeting.

"I would have said some things maybe a little differently,''
Magowan said Friday, speaking in the dugout during a quick visit to
the team's spring training home. "But we have to remember this is
a free country. People have a right to say what they think. I'm not
the one under that kind of pressure and scrutiny that he was.''

Bonds was defiant and called reporters liars in his first public
comments since his grand jury testimony was leaked to the San
Francisco Chronicle and reported in December.

Bonds 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 if
they were steroids. Prosecutors believe the substances were two
steroids at the center of the BALCO scandal.

Asked directly whether he'd ever used illegal performance-enhancing drugs, Bonds said: "I'm not a child. You
repeat those things to children and then eventually they tell you. I don't.''

The 40-year-old Bonds, the seven-time NL MVP, enters the season
with 703 homers, trailing only Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714)
on the career list.

While the Giants plan to celebrate Bonds' accomplishments
appropriately, Magowan realizes the records might not be regarded
as highly because of the steroid scandal.

"It saddens me. I'm sure it saddens Barry,'' Magowan said.
"But I don't think it's going to affect his performance, or the
performance of the team. We lived under this cloud all of last
year, and we did fine under that kind of adversity. He did fine
under that kind of adversity.''

Magowan declined to talk about the leaked grand jury testimony
or BALCO.

Bonds is coming off operations on both knees and will be limited
in spring training until at least mid-March as he recovers. He did
some light throwing in right field with Michael Tucker on Friday --
the first time he's been on the field working -- and also rode the
stationary bike.

Magowan hopes with the Giants' improved roster that Bonds won't
have to be nearly as productive in 2005.

"Do I expect him to hit .362? Do I expect him to be the MVP? I
don't think he needs to be,'' Magowan said. "Do I expect him to
play 145 games, lead the team in games played? I don't. So we may
not get or need as much of a contribution from Barry as we've been
fortunate to have these last few years. His age doesn't bother me.
The knee operations don't bother me. But to put the kind of
expectations on him that we are depending upon him to have the kind
of year he's had the last two years -- the last 12 years with us -- I
don't think we have to expect that.''

Magowan knows Bonds will face criticism from fans in a lot of
ballparks this season, but expects "overwhelming support'' for
Bonds at home.

"I think he's going to run into trouble on the road, but I
don't think this going to upset him in any way,'' Magowan said.
"He's shown he can live with that kind of adversity. Some would
even argue it might bring out the best in him.''

Magowan thinks the Giants will be the early favorite to win the
improved NL West. San Francisco missed the playoffs in the final
weekend last year but has won 191 games over the past two seasons
under manager Felipe Alou.

The Giants added right fielder Moises Alou, catcher Mike
Matheny, shortstop Omar Vizquel and closer Armando Benitez this
offseason.

"I think the team is the best one in my 13 years here,''
Magowan said. "I'd say the best one was the '93 team, and I think
this compares very favorably to that. A 91-win team and you add
four people of that caliber makes me think we're going to have a
very exciting season. ...

"We haven't won a World Series. That's always our goal as we
start each baseball season. That goal starts the moment we're
eliminated the previous year. I just feel we've got a better shot
at it this year than any time I can remember since 2002.''