07/13/2004 9:43 PM ET
Notes: Bonds sees bigger 500 Club
Giants slugger expects younger players to join
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Barry Bonds is already one of only 20 members of the 500-home run club, but he expects the membership to go beyond that soon.
|Barry Bonds eyes young sluggers as future 500 Home Run Club members. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Bonds thoroughly enjoyed being among the 14 living members, including Hank Aaron and Bonds' godfather Willie Mays, who assembled the day before the 75th All-Star Game.
"Yeah, and there are some younger guys coming to make it more impressive. I just hope these guys are around to see it. There's going to be Alex Rodriguez and some other young players that are going to come up in a couple years," Bonds said.
"And 'Crime Dog' McGriff. He's close, isn't he?"
Fred McGriff is at 493, but so far this season has hit just two in a part-time role for the Devil Rays.
"Don't matter, man. You've got a whole second half. He could still come back another year and DH and walk away. You never know," Bonds said.
Alex Rodriguez has 367 home runs at age 28. Frank Thomas is behind McGriff at 436.
What's that, Honey? Bonds had his daughter, Aisha, with him at the Century 21 Home Run Derby.
"She said, 'You can't hit a home run every time,'" Bonds
said. "I said, 'Yes, I can.'"
But not this time. Miguel Tejada won.
Third timer: Bonds seems to dominate the All-Star scene and is on almost everyone's mind. Albert Pujols of the Cardinals is one of his fans.
"You don't often get the opportunity to play in an All-Star Game with Barry Bonds and I've got a chance to play [one] three of the four years I've been in the league," Pujols said.
Pujols, who has never batted second for the Cardinals, was in that spot Tuesday night.
"That's why it's the All-Star Game," Pujols said. "Anybody can hit second. Anybody can hit fourth or fifth."
Teammate Edgar Renteria, who usually bats second for the Cardinals, was in the National League leadoff spot for the second straight year. But the lineup was loaded.
"It's unbelievable when you see Jeff Kent hitting eighth," he said.
Cigar break: NL manager Jack McKeon has been so busy he's barely had time to enjoy one of his trademark cigars.
"I just walked to the park so I could have a good, long smoke and I'm going to walk back to the hotel tonight so I can have a good, long smoke," McKeon said.
McKeon, 73, is the oldest manager in All-Star history. Connie Mack was 70 when he guided the American League in the first Midsummer Classic in 1933.
This week's job has kept him hopping.
"I didn't realize the talent I'd have or all the extra duties I'd have," he said, "but I'd like to do it again."
You bet. That means you've been to the World Series.
Age on stage: The NL had three players over 40 -- Roger Clemens at 41, and Randy Johnson and Barry Larkin at 40.
Bonds? He'll turn 40 on July 24.
Last year the AL had three players over 40 with Clemens, Edgar Martinez and Jamie Moyer.
Final word: Ex-relief star Goose Gossage made a case here for more closers, even setup men, to go into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Dodgers closer Eric Gagne agrees the role deserves more recognition.
"Baseball has been played for a long time, but a closer's role has been defined for, what, just 25 or 30 years? It hasn't been a long time but it's a little bit different," Gagne said.
"The longer we play the game, the more people are going to recognize that closers really are a big part of winning a ballgame. People have their own opinion on that and some of them don't think closers should get that much recognition. But I think when I step on the field I'm pretty important to the team."
Even if few other people recognize them, Gagne knows the set-up man is the secret to his success.
"That's the reason I'm out there on the field, because the guy in front of me did his job and that's really important," he said.
Gagne was hoping to have a shot at a save in this Midsummer Classic.
"Yeah, maybe face (Hank) Blalock again in the ninth inning," he said.
Last year, of course, the Rangers' Blalock drilled a two-run homer off Gagne to give the AL a 7-6 victory at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.