Giant leap: Bonds says he will return this season

Updated: September 8, 2005, 6:17 PM ET news services

LOS ANGELES -- Barry Bonds said Wednesday he "definitely" will play this season, although he doesn't know when.

Barry Bonds
AP PhotoBarry Bonds is moving closer and closer to rejoining the Giants in the lineup.

Bonds was taking part in a simulated game Thursday at SBC Park. A club source told ESPN's Pedro Gomez the Giants still want to put Bonds through further tests and he could be activated by this weekend at the earliest.

The Giants have scheduled a news conference for Thursday night where both Bonds and general manager Brian Sabean are expected to speak.

He joined his teammates for batting practice for the third straight day, and during one of his turns hit a ball into left field and ran to first base.

The 41-year-old slugger has yet to play this season while recovering from three operations on his right knee since Jan. 31.

"I'm very anxious to get on the field," he said. "All I think about is having my name called, playing left field and seeing that little kid in the field cheering. Those are the visions I see."

Earlier Wednesday, Bonds visited the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic for treatment.

He has been on his own in Los Angeles for two months rehabbing his knee. Recently, he has been practicing his hitting at UCLA.

"I just want to go back to San Francisco, play with these guys and give us every chance we have to get to the playoffs," Bonds said while sitting in his locker before batting practice. "I want to see the fans of San Francisco. I miss the city, I just want to go home. I can't wait to go home."

Bonds confirmed that he will resume traveling with the Giants and spend the rest of the season with them. They open a four-game series at home against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

"I feel I'm in pretty good shape," he said. "We still got time and we still have a chance."

Following Wednesday night's 9-8 loss to the Dodgers, the Giants were in second place in the NL West, six games behind San Diego.

Asked if he was sure he'll play this season, Bonds said, "Definitely, yes."

"I have to pick my spots," he said. "I'll have to be a little cautious, but there's only so many games left, so caution is out the window."

He has 703 homers, third on the career list behind Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).

Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said Thursday's simulated game would probably last three innings.

"Barry just wants to see live pitching from a right-hander," Righetti said, adding that Matt Kinney or Kevin Correia could possibly pitch.

Bonds said he needs the simulated game before being activated off the disabled list.

"When you're in the cage all the time you get tunnel vision," he said. "On the field, there are all sorts of distractions, so the more you can practice that the better."

Bonds expressed his gratitude to orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum and physical therapist Clive Brewster for overseeing his rehab.

"If it wasn't for them, I don't know if I'd be in this situation right now," he said, adding that it "took a lot of their kicking my butt" to make him realize he needed to repair his leg for the rest of life, not just to play baseball.

"It turned out to be the right decision," he said.

Giants manager Felipe Alou said he and Bonds haven't talked about how the slugger will be used once he returns. Bonds could start in left field or be a pinch hitter.

"He knows we need him real bad," Alou said. "Even if he's not up to par."

Alou predicted opposing managers won't hesitate to walk Bonds immediately. He was walked a major league-record 232 times last season on the way to his record seventh NL MVP award.

Bonds said that besides getting to play this season, he is looking down the road to next year and beyond.

"There's more baseball in me," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.