Giants plan to celebrate if Bonds passes Ruth
Team owner Peter Magowan and executive vice president Larry Baer vowed Tuesday to honor the organization's star player while also reiterating their commitment to cooperate with the commissioner's office on any investigation into Bonds' alleged steroids use.
Magowan and Baer arrived in Arizona one week after the release of excerpts from an upcoming book revealing Bonds' purported longtime schedule for taking performance-enhancing drugs.
"I recognize this is a serious matter," Magowan said, standing in the dugout before the Giants hosted the Texas Rangers. "It is still a legal proceeding, that's all I can say. ... I can't comment on any of this. It's the position we've taken for two years now."
Giants brass is brainstorming exactly what to do if Bonds ties Ruth for second place on career list with 714 homers and then how to honor him if he passes the Babe. Bonds begins the season with 708 home runs, and he connected for his second spring training homer Tuesday against 20-year-old Texas lefty John Danks.
"It's certainly not going to go unnoticed or uncommemorated," Baer said. "He's our player and it would be a tremendous accomplishment. We don't have a hold on what we're going to do. It won't be silence."
This has been a spring of further off-field distractions for Bonds, who was in the lineup as the designated hitter against the Rangers. Bonds played left field for the first time Sunday against San Diego and homered for the first time in only his fourth spring training at-bat.
On Tuesday, he lined a single to the gap in left-center in the first and then led off the fourth by sending a 1-2 pitch from Danks over the wall in right and into the batting cage area.
"Game of Shadows," written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters, is due out later this month, while another book on Bonds -- "Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero" -- written by Jeff Pearlman is set for release in late May.
Magowan insists he would sign Bonds again. The 13-time All-Star has been with San Francisco since 1993 after spending his first seven big-league seasons in Pittsburgh.
"Winning ballplayer," Magowan said. "He's helped us win."
Baer has been communicating more frequently with commissioner Bud Selig and his staff. Baseball didn't ban steroids until after the 2002 season.
"Obviously this is a story that has a fascination to it," Baer said of everything about Bonds' pursuit. "The commissioner has a review and we're working in lock step with him."
Last August, Magowan said he had mixed feelings about the Giants' decision to give up the right to void 2006, the final year of Bonds' contract -- though he originally defended the move. At that point, Bonds hadn't played all year following three operations on his right knee since Jan. 31. He eventually returned for 14 games in September.
The seven-time NL MVP turns 42 in July, so the Giants know his time could come any day if he steps wrong and injures his tender knee.
"I think, from all that I've seen and from that all that I've heard, he's going to do fine," Magowan said. "You never know. He could trudge out to left field at any point and his career could be over. He certainly seems to be able to still hit a baseball. He says he's not in pain. He hasn't done the really tough stuff yet. I'm sure that will happen within the next three weeks."
Bonds said he will need to push his body soon to gauge his true health.
The Giants have already sold about 2.5 million tickets, nearly the same number as last season at this time. Magowan isn't concerned about a fallout from the steroids reports, saying: "I'm pretty confident. I think we know our fans pretty well and the fans like Barry and they show up to see him perform. I suspect they will again."
Bonds' off-the-field issues are something the Giants have been dealing with for several years now.
"We've been through this sort of stuff a lot in the past. I admit it was not as much as it is right now," Magowan said. "The more he can play, the better. I don't know what that number is. I think it has to be more than 14."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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