Agent: Look for Bonds in '07

Borris says state of slugger's knees and elbow is key to decision

May 10, 2006|By JON HEYMAN | JON HEYMAN,NEWSDAY

Expect Barry Bonds back next year to battle all his aches and pains, to weather the steroid storm and, of course, to chase Hank Aaron's all-time home run record.

Bonds has sent mixed signals publicly about whether he plans to return for another season, but in perhaps the clearest sign that he will, Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, told Newsday on Monday: "I have every reason to believe Barry Bonds will be a professional baseball player in 2007."

Bonds, who entered last night with 713 home runs - one behind Babe Ruth for second place and 42 behind Aaron - recently has gotten hot. He has five home runs and is batting .262 with a .569 slugging percentage after hitting his 713th home run Sunday off Philadelphia's Jon Lieber.

Bonds told USA Today in spring training that 2006 would be his last season, and others close to him say he has waffled at times about whether he will return, depending on how his problematic knees feel. But according to Borris, all current evidence suggests he'll be back to chase history.

"I have reason to believe he will," Borris said. "Barry told me the other day his knee and elbow are feeling a little bit better every day. ... He still loves playing baseball. As long as there isn't a decline in his health, he'll be in a big league uniform."

Surprisingly, which uniform he'll wear still could be in question. The San Francisco Giants publicly have supported Bonds throughout this difficult time and would be considered a favorite to retain his services if he returns, but it's uncertain how their contract talks have gone with Bonds.

In any case, Borris didn't discount a designated hitter role for Bonds to save his knees.

"I wouldn't rule out DH as a possibility," Borris said. "In fact, if he were a DH, I think 1,000 home runs would be within his grasp. Barry approaches rehab as diligently as anybody. If his knee holds up, I wouldn't put 1,000 home runs past him."

If things don't work out in San Francisco or his knees worsen, Anaheim would be a logical landing spot for Bonds, who will make $18 million this season. Oakland general manager Billy Beane also showed interest in Bonds when he was a free agent five years ago.

Yesterday, Giants owner Peter Magowan told the San Jose Mercury News, "I've always been open to the possibility of him being in another uniform."

Jon Heyman writes for Newsday.

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