Bonds takes swings, homers in simulated game
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds felt strong and limber while taking swings and running the bases in a pregame workout back home Thursday, and the San Francisco Giants slugger said there's a possibility he could return this weekend.
|OTL: RETURN OF BONDS|
With Barry Bonds set to be activated by the San Francisco Giants this weekend, OTL examines whether Bonds is motivated by individual or team concerns as the 2005 season enters its final stages. OTL also takes a historical look at the impact of superstars returning to their teams this late in the year and what it meant to team chemistry and success. Jeremy Schaap hosts (Friday, 12:40 a.m. ET/9:40 p.m. PT).
Bonds, who hasn't played this season after three surgeries on his troublesome right knee since Jan. 31, faced 21 pitches from Giants right-hander Kevin Correia split into two sessions in a simulated game. He took just one swing at the first seven pitches, but hit an early pitch from the second session out of the park.
He also took a round of batting practice against hitting coach Joe Lefebvre, swinging 17 times and hitting another homer along with a handful of line drives. Bonds took more batting practice later with his teammates, and he played catch in the outfield.
He'll consult with his doctors Friday before a similar workout -- and if he responds well to the increased stress and waiting periods required by his sport, Bonds acknowledged the possibility he could return this weekend.
"It's not unrealistic, but now it's just the time of how I recover," Bonds said.
Bonds looked good in batting practice for the fourth straight day since rejoining the Giants in Los Angeles, where he spent the last two months in rehabilitation. He also was upbeat being back in his home park with McCovey Cove behind right field -- though the chilly weather tested him.
"I've been in L.A. for the most part in 90-degree weather," Bonds said of his rehabilitation. "Coming up here to San Francisco and the cold ... I just want to see how I come out of it."
During his running exercises, Bonds sprinted around the bases and spoke with several coaches. After getting instructions on how to quickly head out of the batter's box for first base, Bonds cracked: "What if I hit a home run?"
"I'm not waiting on his swing. I take that for granted," Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "The thing is running the bases. He ran better than in spring training and in the last month of last year. At this time last year, he was limping and complaining about the knee. It's much, much better than a year ago, or in spring training."
Bonds and general manager Brian Sabean refused to give a timetable for his return, but the Giants' longtime left fielder said he would be willing to return even as a pinch-hitter.
"I want to play [in the outfield] if it's my pick, but I have to do what's best for the team," Bonds said.
"I hope he's activated during the weekend -- that everything is OK enough that he's activated," Alou said. "[Friday], I don't see it as a sure thing, because we've got to see how he comes in tomorrow."
The 41-year-old outfielder will provide a huge boost to San Francisco's improbable playoff push. Following Wednesday night's 9-8 loss to the Dodgers, the Giants were 63-75 -- but in second place in the NL West, just six games behind San Diego.
"There's a feeling of urgency, because we know the difference that he could make for us," Alou said.
Giants owner Peter Magowan and Sabean watched Bonds' workout from a luxury box above the field, while at least 40 reporters and photographers crowded into foul territory in the otherwise empty stadium.
"It's days like this that tell you he's getting closer, but he's going to have to feel like he's ready," Sabean said.
Bonds, who has 703 career homers, said Wednesday he would definitely play this season, continuing his quest to overtake Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on baseball's career homers list.
The Giants were preparing for the opener of an 11-game homestand, facing the Chicago Cubs in the first four. Though the season nearly over Bonds has no qualms about returning for even a short stint in the lineup.
"I wouldn't be here if there was a major risk," he said. "The risk factor is minimal, and now it's just trying to maintain [progress]."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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