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03/19/08 1:43 AM ET
Bonds: 'I'm not going to retire'
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Former Giants slugger Barry Bonds said on Tuesday night that he has no intention of retiring from baseball and he won't reject signing a contract sometime during the season if the right job presents itself. "I'm not going to retire. I don't think that's going to happen," he said by telephone from Los Angeles. "I'm working out, I'm training. If my phone rings, it rings, if it don't, it don't. I have a cell phone. I have a Blackberry. They work. If something comes up, I'm sure they'll let me know. I'll come back in July if I have to. It depends on the circumstances." With barely a week left to go in Spring Training, Bonds is still unsigned, but he and his agent, Jeff Borris, believe that there should be a job for him somewhere. Bonds, Major League Baseball's all-time leader with 762 homers, hit 28 of them last season when he also walked 132 times and amassed a .480 on-base percentage in 126 games. Bonds said he has one good reason to come back for a 23rd season. "I want to win a championship or else I want to keep trying to win a championship until there's nothing left inside me," said Bonds, who came closest with a 2002 Giants club that dropped a seven-game World Series to the Angels. "I deserve that. "I can still play. If couldn't play I'd say, 'Hey, I can't play.' I'm not going to sit around and do something I can't do. I've always, said, 'There's some things I can do, there's some things I can't do, and there's some things I just ain't going to deal with.' But baseball I still can do." The question is whether there will be a job for him. Bonds was told by the Giants this past September that his 15-year reign with the team was over and he would not be asked back. After the World Series, he filed for free agency and was hoping to play again this season. Bonds hit his 756th home run to pass Hank Aaron into first place on the all-time list this past Aug. 7. He played his final game for the Giants on Sept. 26 at AT&T Park. A host of other big-name free agents, including Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Roger Clemens, David Wells and Jeff Weaver, are also still on the market. The Red Sox and A's will open the regular season in Japan on March 25. Five days later, the Braves and Nationals will stage the U.S. opener in Washington, D.C. One Tuesday, Don Fehr, the executive director of the Players Association, said that the union may investigate whether there are any underlying reasons why Bonds hasn't been able to sign a Major League contract for the coming season. "We always look at the free-agent markets every year and make judgments about them, and if we come to the conclusion with respect to any player that there's a matter worth pursuing, we'll pursue it," Fehr told reporters after meeting with the Angels during his annual tour of spring camps. "But I'm not going to make any suggestions or accusations unless and until we come to that conclusion." Bonds said he had no clue what was transpiring in the market place. "That's why I have an agent, it's his job," Bonds said. "I know he's upset and so are a lot of other people." Reached by telephone, Borris, of the Beverley Hills Sports Council, was asked if there had been any contact between his office and the union. "Yes," Borris said. Asked to give further details, Borris added: "I've been keeping the union up to date on Barry's situation as it develops." Fehr, though, said he hadn't spoken directly with Bonds or his representatives, which doesn't preclude the fact that other attorneys in the union's office have talked with one of them. "I haven't talked to him about it or his agents and I don't want to comment personally about it since I haven't had the opportunity to do that," Fehr said. Files that have been kept for the last two years regarding the difficulty of Bonds trying to sign contracts will eventually be forwarded to the union. Last year, when Bonds re-signed with the Giants for a contract that paid him $19.25 million, there were no other viable offers. Despite a report several weeks ago that Tampa Bay was internally talking about signing Bonds, no offers are now currently on the table nor have there been any. The fact that Bonds is in the midst of fighting perjury and obstruction of justice charges regarding his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs in a San Francisco court certainly complicates matters. He pleaded not guilty on all five counts this past Dec. 7 and a trial, if there is one, probably won't begin until next year. Bonds said he is deeply involved in the handling of his case. "It's about me so why wouldn't I be?" Bonds said. "I have a good, strong team put together to deal with this. It's just going to take some time. Otherwise, I really can't talk about it." Earlier this month, Commissioner Bud Selig told reporters when questioned about the subject that Major League Baseball is not attempting to keep Bonds out of the game. "Every club is free to do whatever they want with whom," Selig said. When asked his personal opinion about whether he wanted Bonds to play again, Selig said he would keep that to himself. Bonds, though, said he would be highly disappointed if his career ended now. "I can't sit here and say that I'm happy the way things happened, no," Bonds said. "I'm not happy about it at all."
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.