Homestand begins with Bonds 3 homers from passing Aaron

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants didn't need to save a seat for Bud Selig at AT&T Park on Monday night.

Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record resumed as the San Francisco Giants played host to the Atlanta Braves, but the commissioner was not in attendance.

Bonds went 1-for-3 but didn't homer in the Giants' 4-2 loss to the Braves.

Even if he is in attendance in the future, Selig will not participate in any on-field celebration when Bonds, who has faced unrelenting steroid allegations for years, breaks the record, USA Today reported Monday.

Monday's game was the start of a seven-game Giants homestand and Selig "has no current plans to fly" to San Francisco. But Selig re-iterated to ESPN before the game on Monday night that he has not yet made up his mind about whether to attend upcoming Giants games as Bonds continues his chase.

The commissioner attended all three Giants-Brewers games over the weekend, but he will be at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony this coming weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y. Selig said Friday any celebration of the record will be handled by the Giants.

Selig and Bonds did not speak during the series at Miller Park. The commissioner declined to say if the record will remain legitimate if it's broken by Bonds.

"We won't get into that," Selig said. "I'm not passing judgment -- nor should I."

Bonds has 753 home runs, two from tying Aaron's record, and will have the chance to make history at home in the Bay Area where he's hit so many of his milestone blasts.

"Maybe he'll hit it in our bullpen and one of us will catch it," reliever Steve Kline said during the Giants-Brewers series.

Bonds, who turns 43 Tuesday, was held out of San Francisco's 7-5 loss Sunday in the series finale against Milwaukee, though manager Bruce Bochy almost used his slugger to pinch hit.

Bonds started just three of seven games during San Francisco's trip. Bonds went 0-for-6 with three walks -- one intentional -- and two strikeouts in the first two games of the series in the city where Aaron started and finished his 23-year career.

In his first season as San Francisco's skipper after 12 years with the NL West rival Padres, Bochy spoke to Bonds in the batting cage this weekend and realized just how thrilling the record will be.

"Sometimes you have to remind yourself you're standing by who
is going to be the all-time home run leader," Bochy said. "Sure,
that is something you not only think about but appreciate. ... It's
going to be pretty special when it happens. Barry should get the
attention he's getting."

Bonds will likely play five or six games during this week's homestand, including Monday's. Bonds has had success against Braves ace John Smoltz (9-5), who started the opener. Going into the game, Bonds had eight home runs and a career .297 average (19-for-64) against the right-hander.

The Braves are another one of the Hammer's former teams. The first three games with Atlanta are night games, followed by a 4 p.m. PT start Thursday. Sunday's finale with the Florida Marlins is the only early afternoon contest.

Bonds' teammates are eager for him to break the record not only
for the slugger's sanity, but so everybody will have a semblance of
normalcy again. The media horde was huge at Miller Park this
weekend, and it will just get crazier back home.

"With the group of guys we have and guys who have been around,
I don't see it making a big change," right fielder Randy Winn
said. "It's always fun to play in that kind of atmosphere."

Bochy said at the beginning of this trip that he no longer
planned to play Bonds in day games following night games, but the
seven-time MVP appeared in the Giants' victories both Friday night
and Saturday afternoon.

"We'll see how the games go," Bochy said of the homestand.
"I'll give him a day, but I don't know exactly when -- if not more
[than one day]."

Bochy knows he will disappoint the fans in the Giants'
waterfront ballpark when he does choose to sit Bonds, who hit two
home runs Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on almost
three full days' rest.

The Giants certainly want Bonds to become the new home run king
at home, where he is beloved in spite of the steroids suspicions
that surround him.

"It's hard to get more people in there than what we've had.
They've been unbelievable as far as the support through our
struggles," Bochy said. "But I'm sure it's going to create even
more excitement. It's hard to beat what we have at our ballpark.
Now that Barry's getting closer, you'll sense the excitement."

Bochy doesn't want to think about the possibility Bonds' chase
might move into the club's next road trip: to Los Angeles and San
Diego starting July 31.

"Sure, we'd like for it to happen on this homestand," Bochy
said. "But we're not going to change things if it doesn't."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.