Giants plan a Ruthian response

San Francisco won't downplay Bonds' 715th HR


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- On a day when Barry Bonds hit another spring training home run and laid down his first sacrifice bunt in seven years, a high-ranking official for the San Francisco Giants said he doesn't expect the celebration of the slugger's 715th career home run to be muted in any regard.

Nor does Giants chief operating officer Laurence Baer believe that Major League Baseball's celebration of Bonds passing the legendary Babe Ruth - if and when that comes - to be that much different from that of the team Bonds has played for the past 13 seasons.

"I don't think either party will be off the reservation; I don't see us disagreeing," Baer said before yesterday's 3-2 exhibition win over the Texas Rangers at Scottsdale Stadium.

"As we get closer to the date, I think we'll come to what a dignified, appropriate commemoration will be of an accomplishment. It is, it will be, assuming it happens, an accomplishment."

After going 3-for-3 as a designated hitter against the Rangers - to raise his spring training batting average to .714 - Bonds said he hasn't given any thought to the kind of celebration he would like to see if and when he passes Ruth.

"I'd rather celebrate with a World Series ring," said Bonds, who is six home runs behind Ruth and 47 behind Hank Aaron, the game's all-time home run leader. "I could get hurt between now and that time [breaking Ruth]."

Despite growing controversy from Game of Shadows, a soon-to-be released book detailing allegations of steroid use dating back to 1998, and a second book alleging that Bonds told Ken Griffey Jr. that he was going to start using steroids to improve his performance, Bonds seemed in a jovial mood yesterday.

After rifling a single in his first at-bat and hitting a home run over the right-field fence in his second against 20-year-old left-hander John Danks, Bonds laid down a sacrifice bunt off another left-hander, Kevin Walker, and pointed playfully at Rangers manager Buck Showalter.

Asked why he bunted, Bonds said, "Just for fun."

Bonds didn't make a big deal about his second home run in as many games.

"It's just getting at-bats," said Bonds, who is 5-for-7, with two home runs and three RBIs.

Bonds also didn't test his right knee when Lance Niekro's first-inning double reached the center-field wall on a bounce. Bonds, who was held up at third, thought he could have scored had it been a regular-season game.

"I have to be careful right now," he said.

Bonds' mood changed when he was asked about the second book detailing his alleged steroid use. Excerpts from Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds, The Making of an Antihero, by freelance writer Jeff Pearlman, will appear in the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine.

"Why do we have to go with that every time?" said Bonds, who was more exasperated than explosive in answering the question. "Can we just talk about baseball? Please? Please? Please? Can we just talk baseball? Please? Can we? I appreciate it."

Earlier in the day, Giants managing partner Peter Magowan declined to comment on the allegations made in the two books.

"It's a position we've taken for over two years," Magowan said. "We're cooperating any way we can. It's an ongoing investigation, one in San Francisco [with the grand jury and BALCO] and one in the commissioner's office. ... There is still a legal procedure, that's all I can say."

Speaking in the team's dugout, Magowan said that he would sign Bonds all over again, calling him a "winning player."

Center fielder Steve Finley, one of several veterans acquired by the Giants in the offseason, said that the latest controversy surrounding Bonds has not impacted the team.

"To a man, not one person inside this clubhouse is worried about what's going on outside this clubhouse," Finley said.

About the only misfortune Bonds met with yesterday came when he had to pick a piece of paper with the name of one of the 65 teams in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament out of a canister, as part of the team's $50-a-man pool.

The team Bonds picked was little Belmont University.

Told that it was a music school in Nashville, Bonds said with a laugh, "I'm taking piano lessons now, so I might as well join them."

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