Sellout crowd cheers as Bonds presented with MVP

Updated: April 5, 2005, 9:04 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds received a 1-minute standing ovation from the sellout crowd and emphatically declared "I will be back!" when introduced before the Giants' opener Tuesday.

The injured slugger was presented with four awards before San Francisco's 4-2 win over the Dodgers, including his record seventh NL MVP award, the NL batting title and Silver Slugger award. He tipped his hat and waved in all directions to the crowd at SBC Park. At one point, appearing emotional, he buried his face in his hat.

Barry Bonds
AP Photo/Eric RisbergBarry Bonds is beloved in the city of San Francisco.
"I'm speechless and I want to thank my family for being behind me for all these years," he said. "I thank God for the blessings he's given me to be able to play this game. Last but not least, I thank the city of San Francisco. I thank these fans. There are no better fans in the world."

After accepting his awards, he pointed to the sky and the seats as he walked into the dugout.

Highlights of his 2004 accomplishments were shown on the giant video screen in center field before he received his awards.

Frustrated with his health and stressed out from the steroid controversy surrounding him, Bonds is on the 15-day disabled list as he recovers from two operations on his ailing right knee. He believes it may force him to miss half the season or the entire year. Once he's healthy, he will resume his chase of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron for the career home crown.

As always, Bonds relaxed in his black leather recliner before the game, chatting on his cell phone and watching TV. He walked gingerly -- showing no signs of a limp -- through the clubhouse to the training room for rehabilitation work on his knee.

Manager Felipe Alou, whose team is favored to win the NL West, said Tuesday he knew from the first day of spring training the likelihood that Bonds wouldn't be ready by opening day despite the team's optimism Bonds would be in the lineup.

"We've been playing without him for six weeks," Alou said. "We knew from Day 1 he was not going to be with us. We know what we have to do. ... We knew Barry would work so hard to be here today, but I wasn't counting on Barry. If he did, it was really a bonus."

The 40-year-old Bonds has 703 home runs, 11 behind Ruth (714) and 52 from tying Aaron (755). Bonds batted .362 last season with 45 homers and 101 RBIs and also walked 232 times on the way to another MVP award.

This is just the third time in his career he's gone on the disabled list and the first since April 18 to June 9, 1999, as he recovered from elbow surgery.

When Bonds is ready to play again, it is unclear whether he would go on a minor league assignment before returning to the Giants. The slugger will likely have a say in that.

"Most veteran players do," Alou said. "He's walking OK. We need more than that. He's here early every day."

Bonds' former teammate Jeff Kent, now wearing Dodger Blue and batting cleanup for Los Angeles, didn't mind that Bonds wasn't playing.

"Any time you can have one of the best players not playing it's a great thing," he said.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press