Archive for Friday, May 19, 2006

Bonds back in Bay Area

Slugger will DH while swinging for record at Oakland’s expense

May 19, 2006

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— Barry Bonds might end up tying the Babe in the Bay Area after all - only it could come across the water in the unfriendly confines of Oakland.

Bonds should be well rested as he resumes his pursuit of Babe Ruth in a weekend interleague series against the Athletics in which he will be the designated hitter, perhaps a preview of the slugger's future beyond 2006.

Bonds' home run drought has reached eight games since he hit No. 713 on May 7 at Philadelphia to move within one of tying Ruth for second place on the career list.

The next three games could serve as an audition of sorts. With Bonds' contract up at the end of the season, he hasn't ruled out a switch to the American League for 2007 to be a DH and reduce the wear and tear on his surgically repaired right knee.

He would like nothing more to get this over with, and preferably in San Francisco's own stadium. And that is still a realistic possibility considering the Giants return home Monday for six games against St. Louis and Colorado.

"That was the most important thing for me," Bonds said. "San Francisco is my biggest supporting cast. I've been able to do it for them forever since I've been here. There's nothing more gratifying than, you know, having them able to catch a ball, on your turf. The way I'm swinging, it looks like I can wait."

Bonds and the Giants return to Northern California with some long-awaited momentum following a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros. San Francisco outscored the defending National League champions 34-5 in three games at hitter friendly Minute Maid Park.

"Everybody in the Bay Area should be excited," Oakland manager Ken Macha said. "It's history in the making."

The 41-year-old Bonds didn't play in the series finale in Houston on Wednesday night - the Giants' second 10-1 win in three games - to give him plenty of time to rest.

"The amino acids in my head are going to explode if I talk to you," Bonds joked in the dugout Tuesday. "I've got to conserve my energy."

Bonds had started eight straight days, his longest such stretch since starting 10 consecutive days from June 18-27, 2004. While he was available to pinch hit, San Francisco again jumped to a big lead early and playing Bonds never became necessary.

Bonds is 0-for-4 with a walk in his career against Oakland's starter on Friday, Dan Haren, and Bonds has never faced Brad Halsey or Joe Blanton, who go Saturday and Sunday.

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