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.

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

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

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

"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