Short move? A's showing interest in free agent Bonds

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics need a designated
hitter, and they aren't going far for one potential candidate to
fill the spot: Barry Bonds.

A's general manager Billy Beane has had conversations with
Bonds' agent Jeff Borris about the 42-year-old slugger, who has
played the past 14 seasons with San Francisco. Oakland lost Frank
Thomas on Friday when he finalized an $18.12 million, two-year
contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Bonds, who became a free agent after the season at the
conclusion of a $90 million, five-year deal with the Giants, also
is being pursued by San Francisco. The seven-time NL MVP has said
he would like to play his 22nd and perhaps final season for the
Giants and finish his career in San Francisco, which hosts the 2007
All-Star game at its waterfront ballpark.

Bonds, who had surgery on his troublesome left elbow after the
season ended, has 734 home runs and is closing on Hank Aaron's
record of 755.

"We've talked about a lot of players internally," said A's
assistant GM David Forst, speaking on behalf of the organization as
Beane dealt with a death in the family. "Barry is one of the guys
out there who we're considering. … He's probably the best player
in the game the last 15 years. I think anybody would be interested
in having his bat in the lineup."

How much that would cost is another issue. If the A's couldn't
keep Thomas, how would they possibly be able to afford to sign
Bonds -- which makes a move by Bonds across San Francisco Bay to the
American League appear to be a longshot. With Bonds also comes the
constant accusations of steroid use and the possibility he will be
indicted on perjury charges if a federal grand jury finds that he
lied to another grand jury that he'd never knowingly used
performance-enhancing drugs.

While he is open to being a DH and no longer playing left field,
Bonds doesn't want to take a big pay cut next season.

Still, new A's skipper Bob Geren, hired Friday as a first-year
major league manager, has thought about the possibility of working
with Bonds. And A's owner Lew Wolff has had kind words regarding
Bonds' talent.

"I have let that creep in my mind," Geren said. "All I can
say about him is he's the greatest player I've ever seen in my
baseball life. I couldn't imagine anyone who wouldn't want him on
his team."

After missing all but 14 games in 2005 following three
operations on his right knee, Bonds batted .270 with 26 homers and
77 RBI in 367 at-bats in 2006. His defense in left field was
spotty at times, though Bonds showed late in the year that he had
regained strength in his legs and made several running catches.

Bonds has helped the Giants draw 3 million fans in all seven
seasons of their stadium's existence.