Bonds Talks About Playing in 2008

Tuesday, March 13th 2007, 5:54 am

By: News On 6

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ Opening day is still three weeks away and Barry Bonds already is talking about 2008. Asked Monday whether he'd like to play next season if he's still healthy, Bonds responded, ``sure.'' Bonds hedged a bit later in the interview, but it's clear he's not quite ready to step away. ``Let me get through '07 first,'' he said. ``If I'm healthy, I'd consider coming back.''

Bonds said he feels ``100 percent'' better than he did last spring, when he was coming back from three operations on his right knee. He is moving better than he did at this time last year and played for the fourth straight day Monday against the Chicago Cubs.

He said it took until August for him to feel he was back in baseball shape last year and that his improved health has put him in a better frame of mind.

``When you feel better, your mood is better,'' he said. ``The last couple of years it wasn't happening.''

Along with his balky knee, Bonds was dogged in spring training last year by allegations of steroid use in the book ``Game of Shadows.'' Then in April, it was revealed that a grand jury was investigating him for possible perjury regarding to his testimony in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative scandal.

Bonds said he'd like to keep playing as long as he's healthy but added that it's getting harder and harder to do the work it takes each offseason to get ready.

He said unlike Roger Clemens, who is mulling whether to come back for another partial season this year, a hitter can't join a team in the middle of the season.

``That's the hardest part for us,'' he said. ``We don't get as much time off. If we don't start early, we have to play catch up.''

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said watching Bonds leaves no doubt that the slugger could play beyond 2007.

``There's no question in my mind he has a lot of baseball left,'' Bochy said. ``He came in here in good shape. He's been running well, he's swinging the bat well. He looks like he's on a mission to play longer.''

The biggest on-field question surrounding Bonds this season is whether he will hit the 22 home runs he needs to break Hank Aaron's career home run mark of 755.

Bonds said he didn't know if Aaron would be on hand if he's in position to break the record and wasn't about to predict when that milestone homer might come.

``I just want to do it. Period,'' he said.

Bonds said he would have probably broken Aaron's mark if not for the knee injuries that limited him to 14 games in 2005 and slowed him down for much of last season as well. If falls short of the mark this season, he admits that would play into his decision about 2008.

``It would be something to consider,'' he said. ``It would be something to listen to over the winter.''

Bonds said he's not afraid of retirement, enjoying his time away from the game during his rehab from the knee injuries in 2005.

``I had a year off. I had a year off at home and I liked it,'' he said. ``I didn't miss the game as much as I thought.''

When the possibility of hitting 800 homers was brought up, Bonds said to ``call Alex'' _ a reference to the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, who has 464 homers at the age of 31.

``Whatever I end up with, I'll be happy,'' Bonds said.

Bonds has other goals as well. He said he'd have no problem getting the 70 RBIs he needs this year for 2,000 but might need to alter his strategy if he's going to get the 159 hits he needs to reach 3,000 in 2007.

``Got to get some bunts in then,'' he said.

Bonds had a tough day in the field Monday, the fourth straight day he was in the Giants lineup. He lost a pair of first-inning fly balls in the bright sun in left field, contributing to a six-run inning for the Chicago Cubs, and went 1-for-3 with a single at the plate in the Giants' 10-5 loss.

``We should play more night games,'' he said. ``We'd have a better chance of seeing the ball.''

Bonds will be off on Tuesday when the Giants host the Oakland Athletics in their only night game at Scottsdale Stadium this year before returning to the lineup as the designated hitter against the Angels in Tempe on Wednesday.

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