SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Barry Bonds was the big topic of conversation Wednesday when pitchers and catchers reported to the San Francisco Giants’ camp for the start of spring training — even though he was nowhere to be found.
It’s unknown when Bonds will report to spring training as he tries to bounce back from his injury-shortened 2005 when he played just 14 games after undergoing three operations on his knee. The Giants’ position players report Monday, but Bonds could choose to come earlier because of the injury.
Manager Felipe Alou said he was anxious to have Bonds in camp and immediately was asked if he still is entertaining thoughts of having the seven-time MVP bat second in spite of the superstar’s preference to remain in the heart of the order.
“I said I was going to talk with Barry, and we’re going to talk,” was all Alou said on the subject, emphasizing that he’s more concerned about Bonds’ physical condition than where he bats in the order.
“As a manager, I’d like to see how he is. One time last spring, he was catching fly balls with the outfielders, and after that it was all downhill. He’s got to get in shape, but he’s a smart man and a smart player. The earlier he gets started the better.”
General manager Brian Sabean seemed unconcerned about where Bonds will bat, adding: “I just hope he’s in the lineup to bat somewhere.”
With Bonds in the final year of his contract, Sabean was asked if discussions had begun on an extension for 2007, when Bonds likely would be close to overtaking Aaron’s 755 if he remains healthy this year.
“It has not been brought up by their side, or our side,” Sabean said. “From what I understand, his offseason conditioning has gone well. But until he gets here and into a regimen, we have to be open-minded.
“It’s a day-to-day proposition, starting with the day he shows up.”
Sabean seemed relieved that Bonds was not participating in the World Baseball Classic, even though as a designated hitter there would have been less of an injury risk. The general manager has concerns about 39-year-old outfielder Moises Alou playing for the Dominican Republic.
“I’m not worried about pitchers, but I have some concerns about Mo,” Sabean said. “Guys will be running 90 feet, throwing long, going all out. Yes, you have some anxieties.”
Closer Armando Benitez took no chances. After missing four months last season following hamstring surgery, he declined an invitation to pitch for the Dominican Republic to concentrate on being ready for the Giants.
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Felipe Alou’s future for next season is also in question. When asked if he plans on managing beyond 2006, Alou said a contract extension was “not important to me.”
“It’s a very important year for the team. We haven’t been in the playoffs a couple of years,” he said. “I don’t know how long I’m going to manage. I signed a three-year contract and I’m in my fourth year. Last year left a bad taste. I’m looking forward to having a successful season. I felt the same last (spring), and then we had all the injuries.”
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