Padres send down Hensley due to taxed bullpen
SAN DIEGO -- It was No. 755 and out for Clay Hensley.
The demotion had nothing to with Bonds' historic shot. San Diego's bullpen was taxed after two straight extra-inning games, and the Padres needed a fresh arm, which it got by promoting right-hander Mike Thompson from the Beavers.
At the very least, Hensley got a nice parting gift -- an autographed bat from Bonds.
Hensley became the 445th pitcher to allow a homer to the San Francisco Giants star.
The pitcher and slugger ran into each other in a hallway after Saturday night's game.
"I congratulated him," Hensley said. "It was funny, because he didn't expect to get that off me. But it happened, so what are you going to do? I shook his hand, gave him a big hug and said, 'congratulations.' And that was pretty much it."
Hensley asked for, and got, an autographed bat.
"It was a nice gesture," Hensley said. "I appreciate that."
Then he got the news Sunday morning that he was going to the minors. He threw 4 2/3 innings Saturday night, and the Padres used all seven relievers to get through their 3-2, 12-inning win.
"We're running out of guys. We went through everybody, and what are you going to do?" Hensley said. "I see that side of it. It was just unexpected."
Bonds seemed surprised when he heard Hensley was sent down.
"He did? That sucks," Bonds said.
The 27-year-old Hensley said it doesn't bother him that he'll be remembered for allowing Bonds' homer.
"I just got a few text messages from some buddies," he said. "Nothing too crazy. I thought it was going to be a lot worse than it was. It wasn't bad at all. I watched the replay a couple of times last night. It's not that big a deal. To me it's just another home run. We're trying to win a ballgame, first and foremost."
Bonds homered to left-center leading off the second inning on a 2-1 pitch, a 91-mph fastball that both players said was outside.
"He said, 'That ball was way off the plate, and I said, 'Yeah, man I thought you were going to take the pitch,'" Hensley said. "I thought he's going to take this pitch or hit it out, and sure enough he hit it out.
"The way I kind of looked at it was that I wasn't going to leave something over the plate," Hensley added. "If I missed, I wanted to miss down. The first at-bat, the home run, I missed up, and he got it. You leave the ball up, they're going to punish you for it whether it's Barry or anyone else."
Hensley also became an unusual footnote in baseball history.
While Bonds has been shadowed by suspicions of steroid use for several years, Hensley got caught when he was in the minor leagues.
In April 2005, Hensley was one of four Padres farmhands who were suspended for 15 games for using steroids or steroid precursors.
Overall, 38 minor leaguers were suspended that spring for violating baseball's minor league steroids policy.
"I did something I shouldn't have, and I paid the price," Hensley said Saturday night. "It's in the past. That's all I really have to say about it."
Asked Sunday if he thought Bonds' home run chase was tainted, Hensley said: "I don't know. Whatever has happened, happened, and it has nothing to do with me or this organization so I'm not too concerned about it."
As it was, Justin Germano, who started Sunday against the Giants, headed to the bullpen in the 10th inning Saturday night in case the game went longer than it did.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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