Giants' slugger sticks to game plan

Updated: February 28, 2005, 5:27 PM ET
Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Barry Bonds took a step back Monday in his recovery from knee surgery -- but it was all according to plan.

A day after taking his first swings of spring, Bonds retreated to a normal schedule of strength training and rehab work with the San Francisco Giants. He might not get back in the batting cage any time soon, but the seven-time NL MVP still is on schedule to return to action well before the Cactus League schedule ends.

"I'm going to try to hold him down as long as I can," Giants trainer Stan Conte said. "We're going back to the original plan. I just don't want him out there, because he gets caught up in it, and then he's doing more than he should."

Barry Bonds

The 40-year-old slugger always has been a quick healer, and he has responded well following minor surgery on Jan. 31. He joined the rest of the Giants for a few stretching drills and other activities last week, and he has spent most afternoons doing extra rehab work.

Bonds moved himself ahead of schedule Sunday when he jumped into the batting cage to take a few swings against Armando Benitez. San Francisco's new closer threw only nine pitches to Bonds, who wanted to begin the annual process of adjusting his natural timing to the speed of live pitching.

With his knee feeling strong, Bonds even took a couple of cuts -- and that's enough for Conte and Giants manager Felipe Alou.

"They're all like kids," Alou said. "I don't care how old those guys are. They feel good, and they get out there. He went in to track pitches, and the next thing you know, he's swinging."

Bonds, who spent most of Monday in the training room, has praised Conte and the Giants' medical staff for their work, but the trainer knows he's in for a battle of wills with a superstar who's never been at less than full strength to start a season. Conte hopes he'll keep his Canadian maple bats in his locker for at least a bit longer.

"I see a lot of risk in it," Conte said. "There's a lot of risk, and zero reward. ... We want him to stay focused on (preparing for) opening day, and nothing sooner or later."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press