San Francisco Barry Bonds received a 1-minute standing ovation from the sellout crowd and emphatically declared "I will be back," when introduced before the Giants' opener Tuesday.
The injured slugger was presented with his record seventh NL MVP award, the NL batting title and Silver Slugger award. He tipped his hat and waved in all directions to the crowd at SBC Park. At one point, appearing emotional, he buried his face in his hat.
"I'm speechless, and I want to thank my family for being behind me for all these years," he said. "I thank God for the blessings he's given me to be able to play this game. Last but not least, I thank the city of San Francisco. I thank these fans. There are no better fans in the world."
After accepting his awards, he pointed to the sky and the seats as he walked into the dugout.
Highlights of his 2004 accomplishments were shown on the giant video screen in center field before he received his awards.
Frustrated with his health and stressed out from the steroid controversy surrounding him, Bonds is on the 15-day disabled list as he recovers from two operations on his ailing right knee. He believes it may force him to miss half the season or the entire year. Once he's healthy, he will resume his chase of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron for the career home crown.
As always, Bonds relaxed in his black leather recliner before the game, chatting on his cell phone and watching TV. He walked gingerly -- showing no signs of a limp -- through the clubhouse to the training room for rehabilitation work on his knee.
Manager Felipe Alou, whose team is favored to win the NL West, said Tuesday he knew from the first day of spring training the likelihood that Bonds wouldn't be ready by opening day despite the team's optimism Bonds would be in the lineup.
"We've been playing without him for six weeks," Alou said. "We knew from Day One he was not going to be with us. We know what we have to do. ... We knew Barry would work so hard to be here today, but I wasn't counting on Barry. If he did, it was really a bonus."