Monday, February 20, 2006
Updated: February 21, 6:20 PM ET
Bonds' comments are the talk of Giants camp
ESPN.com news services
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One day after contradicting reports that Barry Bonds either was ready to retire after the season or set to play 10 more years, the San Francisco Giants are eager to learn what they can expect from the 41-year-old outfielder this season.
Monday was the voluntary reporting date for position players, but Bonds told the team last week through his agent that he would come a day or two later -- still well before the Feb. 28 mandatory reporting date -- because he needed to get some "personal stuff straightened out."
Bonds was a no-show at the first voluntary workout for position players Tuesday.
Giants outfielder Moises Alou said Bonds had earned the right to miss the first workout and wasn't concerned about when his teammate would arrive.
"To me, he can get here whenever he feels he is ready because whenever he walks into this field he'll perform the way Barry has performed all of the time," Moises Alou said.
Bonds' absence left his teammates to react to his comments to USA Today that his injured knee has forced him to take pain pills, that a custody battle with a former wife has taken an emotional toll, and that he plans to retire, and to his remarks to MLB.com that he was just "playing psychological games" and his knee brace feels so good he might play another decade.
"Of course everything Barry Bonds says gets multiplied and is huge," shortstop Omar Vizquel said. "People tend to talk about every thing and every comment he makes. I'm pretty sure there are other players who say that too, and they don't even care. 'You are? OK, good luck.' But he's Barry Bonds."
Manager Felipe Alou said all the reports he has heard on Bonds' knee have been positive but admitted that it concerned him to hear his star talk about how baseball is no longer fun for him.
"Usually when a guy feels like that, it's time to think about retirement," Alou said, adding that he believes Bonds' outlook will change once he joins the team.
Vizquel thinks the retirement talk is premature since Bonds could decide to move to an AL team, where he could be a designated hitter. Vizquel, who turns 39 in April, understands the frustrations of an older player.
"After being out for so long now he's going to come back and he his going to feel that kind of pain, the aching of the muscles and all that," Vizquel said. "I think it's just part of the game and part of the human body. ... He's 41. Every year it's a lot harder. I think it's just how he's feeling right now. When you get used to the groove again, the traveling and everything else, your body starts feeling the same."
Detroit manager Jim Leyland, Bonds' skipper for seven seasons in Pittsburgh, said from Lakeland, Fla., that if Bonds is as unhappy and hurt as he told USA Today, the talk of retirement made sense to him.
"It wouldn't totally surprise me if he retired during the season, if his knees are hurting and he's miserable," Leyland said.
General manager Brian Sabean said the Giants would have no official comment on retirement talk until they talk to Bonds directly and said he has no plans to sit down with his star outfielder. He said it appeared the comments reflected the normal ups and downs of rehab and said he has received positive reports on Bonds' knee from Dr. Lewis Yocum.
Alou said he will let Bonds decide what the best course of action is this spring in order to get ready for the season.
"He is his own boss when it comes to that," Alou said. "He has been since I've been here. He knows what he has to do with BP, outfield, running. So far it's worked pretty good for him and for the team."
Bonds is in the final season of a $90 million, five-year contract and will be eligible for free agency after the World Series, meaning his time with the Giants could be up even if he doesn't retire.
Last season's injuries slowed his pursuit of Hank Aaron's career home run record, but he did hit five homers in 42 at-bats in his brief September return to give him 708 in his career.
He is seven shy of passing Babe Ruth for second place and 48 away from breaking Aaron's record. Since Bonds has hit that many only twice in his 20 year career -- including his record 73 in 2001 -- it seems unlikely he'll break the mark this season. He turns 42 in July.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.