Bochy hoping to write Bonds into his lineup in '07

Tuesday, December 5th 2006, 7:49 pm
By: News On 6

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Bruce Bochy sure would like to see Barry Bonds hitting home runs for him in San Francisco, especially after the slugger connected so many times against Bochy's old team.

Bonds has hit 85 homers against the San Diego Padres, many of them while Bochy was their manager from 1995-2006.

"He's probably going to miss that, because we probably pitched to him more than anybody," Bochy, the Giants' new manager, said Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings.

He might get his wish before long.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean had discussions for the second consecutive day with Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, about bringing the seven-time NL MVP back to San Francisco for a 15th season. Sabean spoke by phone with Borris and they were scheduled to talk again via conference call Tuesday night.

They met in person Monday, when Sabean said the team has been exchanging offers with Borris and is serious about re-signing the 42-year-old left fielder for 2007. Bonds, who has often said he would prefer to finish his career with the Giants, will resume his chase of Hank Aaron's career home run record of 755. He has been deemed healthy by both sides following an elbow operation after the season.

"It's been ongoing," Sabean said Tuesday about the talks.

Bonds' $90 million, five-year contract expired after the season. He certainly didn't appreciate that Giants owner Peter Magowan said on October 2nd that if Bonds returns he will no longer be the centerpiece of the franchis, though there's no doubt the 13-time All-Star would still be the most feared hitter in San Francisco's lineup.

Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin would be shocked if Bonds weren't wearing #25 in San Francisco again next year. The two played against each other in American Legion ball in the Bay Area years ago.

"I expect him to be there," Melvin said. "If we don't have Barry in our division, it's a break. We don't count on it."

Bonds has spent 14 of his 21 big league seasons with San Francisco and helped the Giants draw 3 million fans in all seven seasons of their waterfront ballpark's existence.

He has 734 home runs, 22 from breaking Aaron's mark. After missing all but 14 games in 2005 following three operations on his right knee, Bonds batted .270 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs in 367 at-bats in 2006.

Bochy would like to work with Bonds, and is optimistic about getting that chance.

"I have no reason not to be at this point," said Bochy, eager to have a left fielder in place. "It's part of baseball, the negotiations. ... That's probably part of our plan as an organization to try to get him to come back. He's wanted, but there are negotiations."

Bochy, who left a message for Bonds after being hired as the Giants' new manager in late October, said filling the void in left field is at the top of San Francisco's to-do list. Bonds would be subject to a physical just like any other player the Giants might sign.