SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. San Francisco manager Felipe Alou said he thought Barry Bonds could pass Willie Mays on the career home run chart in the first week of the regular season.
With 658 homers, Bonds is two shy of Mays, his godfather, for third place on the all-time list.
"He's swinging the bat awfully well right now," Alou said Saturday. "He's hitting some balls over the street. He looks like he could hit it out every swing if he wanted. But I think he's working on his timing. He's starting to hit to the opposite field."
The Giants open the season with a three-game series April 5 in Houston and are scheduled to face Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens. Bonds, 39, never has had an official at-bat against any of them, walking four times in four plate appearances.
He's had a lot of success against Houston pitcher Wade Miller, though, going 6-for-13 with three home runs.
"He'll go for it in Houston," Alou said. "I think they have some guys who throw strikes and will maybe go right at him."
Houston, noted as a hitter's park, already has been the site of a historic Bonds home run. He hit No. 70 of the 2001 season there, tying Mark McGwire's previous single-season record.
In other news, Alou confirmed J.T. Snow would be his regular first baseman with Pedro Feliz the backup.
"J.T. is the first baseman as far as I'm concerned," Alou said. "But we'll give Pedro some games there, too. J.T. won't play them all."
Feliz might become the Giants' most valuable backup. In addition to first base, he's also worked out at third base and shortstop, and played in the outfield last year.