Sweeney on Bonds: 'Everything's been fine'
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Mark Sweeney showed up at spring training ready to strictly talk baseball, not the report that teammate Barry Bonds blamed a failed amphetamines test last season on something he got from Sweeney's locker.
Sweeney insists there will be no issues between them and he isn't harboring any hard feelings toward Bonds, scheduled to work out for the first time Tuesday with a frenzy of media following his every move and utterance.
"Everything's been fine," said Sweeney, who received a public apology from Bonds. "It was over and done with. It's time to move on and talk about baseball, which has been good. Barry and I have been fine. ... That's how I am. I'm back to it. Everyone is in here. It's not about me and Barry. It's about everybody."
Bonds' arrival this year might be crazier than even in recent springs. Not only is he fully healthy and only 22 home runs from passing Hank Aaron's career record of 755, but the reported amphetamines result and the situation with Sweeney is still fresh in everyone's minds. Not to mention he could be indicted if a federal grand jury finds that he perjured himself when he testified in 2003 in the BALCO steroid distribution case that he hadn't knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs.
Last month, the New York Daily News reported that when Bonds first learned of his failed amphetamines test, he attributed it to a substance he took from Sweeney's locker.
Sweeney plans to take a lead role in helping build chemistry in the clubhouse once all the position players are in camp. Shortstop Omar Vizquel, who said Monday he would love to work out a contract extension past this season, doesn't expect Bonds to stand up and say sorry to the group -- though hinted it might be a nice gesture.
"Knowing Barry, I don't think he's going to," Vizquel said. "Maybe a situation where we're having a team meeting and he might stress it. He's not the kind of guy who will call a team meeting and apologize to everybody. I think he realizes he made a mistake. He apologized publicly and I think he'll move on from that."
Sweeney, Vizquel, right fielder Randy Winn, third baseman Pedro Feliz, infielder Kevin Frandsen, outfielder Todd Linden and new first baseman/outfielder Ryan Klesko were among the position players who arrived and did some work Monday.
They all know the circus comes to town Tuesday. Bonds spent the weekend in Las Vegas for the NBA All-Star Game and didn't have to show his face for reporting day -- a phone call to say he'd arrived in Arizona would suffice.
The Giants have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons, and Winn made it clear that this season isn't only about Bonds' pursuit of the record.
"If Barry hits 1,000 home runs and nobody else gets a hit, we're going to lose," Winn said. "Hopefully this will be a season I enjoy because he breaks the record and we make the playoffs."
Sweeney might be a little more well known these days because of what happened -- though he seriously doubts that many fans will remember him.
"I'm not a household name. I'm still a pinch-hitter and always will be," he said. "The normalcy part is me showing up and having fun, doing my little pranks or joking around and having a good time. That's what I love to do. It's part of me putting a uniform on."
And he knows he can't control what people think. Sweeney has said there was nothing in his locker for Bonds to take.
"People are going to do whatever they want and they pay for tickets," he said. "They can say or do whatever they want in relative terms. My job is to go out there and perform and do well for this organization."
Manager Bruce Bochy emphasized again Monday that while the story line surrounding Bonds will be fun to be part of, the team's success comes first.
"It's going to be a very exciting day for me," Bochy said of seeing Bonds in uniform and taking his cuts Tuesday. "He wants to get back to the playoffs and will do whatever it takes to do that. We're not going to deal with any outside issues at this point. Our job is to prepare this team."
Bonds' $15.8 million, one-year contract contains an unusual payout schedule: $5 million on Tuesday, $5 million divided into semimonthly installments that began Feb. 15 and end Dec. 31, and $5.8 million on Jan. 15, 2008.
He can earn $4.2 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $500,000 for 250, $1 million each for 300, 375 and 450, and $700,000 for 525. But that money will be deferred until June 1, 2009, earning 3 percent interest starting Nov. 1. Bonds gets to use a luxury suite at AT&T Park for five home games plus any home games in which he has 754 or 755 home runs, and Bonds' foundation will buy 25 tickets for each home game for the Bonds Squad.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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