Rested Bonds brings quest home
Slugger tied with Aaron as Giants begin seven-game stay
SAN DIEGO -- Now that the chase is over, the real countdown begins.With the Giants home for seven games at A&T Park, beginning Monday night against the Nationals, Barry Bonds has a week of chances to hit homer No. 756 and break Hank Aaron's all-time Major League record. Commissioner Bud Selig's schedule will preclude him from being there until later in the week. In his stead, Jimmie Lee Solomon, a Major League Baseball executive vice president, is slated to be in attendance Monday and Tuesday, and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, an MLB advisor, is slated to replace him Wednesday and Thursday. "There's no pressure on me now [that 755 is out of the way]," said Bonds, who rested during Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Padres after tying Aaron with homer No. 755 off right-hander Clay Hensley on Saturday night at PETCO Park. "Mechanically, I've made some corrections [in my swing]. If I keep my mechanics right, you guys won't be around for long." Bonds shrugged when told that the Commissioner probably won't be in attendance the next few days. Bonds never heard from Selig directly after the game, although the Commissioner released a congratulatory statement. But Bonds said he did speak to Ken Griffey Jr. and had voice messages from his godfather, Willie Mays, and Alex Rodriguez, who earlier Saturday hit his 500th homer at Yankee Stadium. There was no message from Aaron, either, Bonds said. "I haven't spoken to [Selig] at all," Bonds added. "But I welcome him here any time he wants to come." Asked if he had any messages for Aaron, Bonds said: "I'm too young to have any message for Hank Aaron. I have to respect my elders like my aunt [standing] over there always told me." The question about how many games it will be before Bonds breaks the record may be dictated by the patterns of the recent past. It took Bonds eight days between homers No. 754 and the record-trying No. 755 that came to lead off the second inning Saturday night against Hensley, who was sent down to the Minors on Sunday. Last year, it also took him eight days from the game in Oakland when he homered to catch Babe Ruth for second on the all-time list until smacking No. 715 to pass the Babe in San Francisco on May 28, 2006. Though Bonds has hit 21 homers this season, since ending April with eight of them, he's been on a one-homer-a-week pace. But for Bonds, home is where the heart is and where he's hit most of his milestone homers. "Just tell all my fans and family I'm coming home," Bonds said. "I'm coming home." At the nearly eight-year-old park in China Basin, Bonds has hit Nos. 71-73 in 2001 to set the single-season record; No. 500; No. 600; Nos. 660 and 661 to pass Mays into third on the all-time list; No. 700; and No. 715 to outpace the Bambino. Asked Sunday how it felt coming home with a week's worth of chances before the Giants hit the road again on Aug. 13, Bonds said: "It feels pretty good right now. Nice, very nice." The Nationals present special problems for Bonds, because they are using starters during the next four games -- John Lannan, Mike Bacsik, Tim Redding and Joel Hanrahan -- whom the left-handed slugger has had little experience facing. He's 1-for-7 with no homers against Bacsik and Redding, but has never faced Lannan or Hanrahan. Bonds said he may take a look at some video of the hurlers before each game, but he is making no solid plans to brush up on Washington's staff. "I don't look at film as much as used to," Bonds said. "I watch what they've done before. I've been in the Major Leagues for 22 years so I know [what pitchers do]. You make your adjustments and they make theirs here and there, but basically it's all the same. Some guys are younger and they make mistakes. A guy like [Greg] Maddux is never going to change. You're going to get him or he's going to get you." The Nationals, fresh off a three-game home sweep of the defending World Series champion Cardinals, won't change their approach when they face Bonds. "We are not going to do anything differently. We are going to pitch to him like we pitch to any of the great hitters in the game," manager Manny Acta said Sunday. "Every at-bat is going to be different," Lannan said. "We have a game plan -- go out there and throw strikes. If Barry comes up, if I have a chance to pitch to him, I will. If the opportunity calls to pitch around him, I will. We are just going to see what happens." And the rest of the baseball world certainly will be watching.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.