Bonds record elicits praise from Orioles

ORIOLES NOTEBOOOK

Tejada: `I think he's the best player I've ever seen in my generation'

August 09, 2007|By Roch Kubatko and Jeff Zrebiec | Roch Kubatko and Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporters

On any other night, Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada wouldn't have interrupted his son's shower to make him watch television. It's usually better to let a 5-year-old get clean before bed, since it tends to be a chore. But Tejada had just seen Barry Bonds hit his record-setting 756th career home run, and he didn't want little Miguel to miss the replay.

It's never too early in life, or late at night, to give a child a history lesson.

Bonds passed Hank Aaron on the all-time list Tuesday night after Tejada returned home from Camden Yards.

"I was cheering. When I saw that happen, it was something that you might not see again," Tejada said.

"I just called my kid. I told him to come out and see what happened," Tejada said. "Later on, when they are big and when people talk about that record, they'll be able to know what they're talking about. They'll be able to say that they saw it. I'm very happy to see that because I didn't see it when Hank Aaron broke the record."

Bonds moved ahead of Aaron when he drove a 3-2 pitch from Washington Nationals starter Mike Bacsik into the seats in right-center field in the fifth inning.

"That's amazing," Tejada said. "It's hard. You have to be strong everywhere. It's not easy to hit as many home runs as he did. No matter how he did it, it's hard to do it. I think he's the best player I've ever seen in my generation."

How Bonds did it remains a source of enormous controversy because he's the central figure in Major League Baseball's steroid investigation.

"The guy has been proven of doing nothing wrong at this point," second baseman Brian Roberts said. Roberts was mostly indifferent but said, "It's an amazing accomplishment."

Said Tejada: "No matter how big and how strong you are, you still have to hit it."

That sentiment was echoed in the visiting clubhouse.

"They never found anything on the guy," Seattle Mariners outfielder Jose Guillen said. "Everyone has to admit he's the best player in baseball. I just want to see people stop being so jealous and give credit to the guy that he deserves."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley avoided any debate over the merits of the record. He chose to compliment the player and stay away from the politics.

"Great athlete, set the record, put the numbers up. He'll go down as the most prolific home run hitter of all time right now," Trembley said. "I don't know about all that other stuff. Has there been any proof that he's done anything illegal? There's been speculation, right? I stay away from the speculation. I think it's been a tremendous accomplishment."

Steve Trachsel can relate to what Bacsik experienced because he gave up Mark McGwire's 62nd homer in 1998 that broke Roger Maris' single-season record. Trachsel was pitching for the Chicago Cubs at the time. "As far as the home run, it was just a home run. It was a big deal for about 10 minutes, then a day later he was on 63 and a week later he was on 70, so it didn't mean that much."

Trachsel said he hasn't watched a replay of Bonds' home run.

"I couldn't care less," he said. "I'm just not interested in it."

Neither is outfielder Jay Payton.

"Honestly, I couldn't care less," he said. "I know Barry. He's actually been good to me, so I have nothing bad to say about him. But I'm obviously not breaking any records, so I don't think about records."

Jay Gibbons said he had goosebumps as Bonds circled the bases.

"I was rooting for him," Gibbons said. "It's a great achievement. As a player, you really can appreciate how hard it is to hit a home run. To do it over all those years, to stay healthy and stay consistent, that's unbelievable. In my mind, he has the record and nobody can take that away from him."

Reliever Paul Shuey faced Bonds in enough games that he doesn't consider the record tainted by the steroid allegations.

"When I think of him, I think of the whole game being changed by the fact he's in the lineup," Shuey said. "If he was using or he wasn't, there are a whole bunch of other guys who were probably using, pitchers included. As far as I'm concerned, that's the age of baseball he was living in."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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