Rays confirm discussion about Bonds; Cards' La Russa interested

Updated: February 26, 2008, 12:54 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Tampa Bay Rays have recently done what the St. Louis Cardinals did a while back: have internal discussions about the prospect of pursuing Barry Bonds.

Manager Joe Maddon said Monday he knew "little" about what was going on, but acknowledged some thought has been given to the career home run leader.

"A minor discussion was thrown out there a little bit, and it's really not gone any further than that," Maddon said after Monday's workout at the team's spring training facility. "That's all it is right now."

The St. Petersburg Times reported in Monday's editions that team officials have conferred among themselves about Bonds and other veteran unsigned free agents, such as Kenny Lofton and Mike Piazza. Andrew Friedman, Rays vice president of baseball operations, called the report a "non-story."

Bonds, who broke Henry Aaron's career home run record last summer, has pleaded not guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice charges stemming from testimony to a federal grand jury in 2003 in which he said he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.

Maddon shrugged off a question about how Bonds might fit in with the Rays if the team decided to pursue him and ultimately added him to the roster.

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"It's hard to conjecture. ... I don't know this man. I only know what I read, and I'm very much open to meeting people and drawing my own conclusions about people. I don't necessarily believe everything that I read," Maddon said.

"For me to create conjecture of what it's going to be like, I really don't want to go there right now. ... So many things are going good right now. If I have to face those moments, I'll do it at the appropriate time. But for right now, it's really about nothing."

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa also had interest in signing Bonds the last two offseasons, but each time the team's front office decided against it.

La Russa, who was looking for a power bat to protect No. 3 hitter Albert Pujols each year, said he was told the asking price for the home run king was too high. This winter, La Russa said he dropped the issue after a discussion with new general manager John Mozeliak.

"It became moot as soon as I raised it and they said no," La Russa said Sunday. "Once it became apparent what the price tag was, I said we just can't, it doesn't make sense for our club."

The Cardinals will likely bat Troy Glaus in the cleanup spot behind Pujols. Glaus was acquired from the Blue Jays for disgruntled Scott Rolen.

Before going to management, La Russa said he polled his coaches on their interest in Bonds. He said some were in favor, some not.

La Russa wanted Bonds for what he could do on the field.

"One reason I would have loved to have had him as a teammate over the many years is his competitiveness, his talent and his work ethic," La Russa said. "This guy, that's some serious work that he does to get himself ready to compete."

The middle of the lineup is a bit of a question mark after the trades of Rolen and Jim Edmonds. La Russa said in considering Bonds, he was just being thorough.

"You're just trying to include all the possible candidates," La Russa said. "That's what I try to do."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.