Bonds backs off retirement talk after earlier report
Posted: Monday Feb 20, 2006 12:38 AM
Barry Bonds might retire after this season. Or, maybe not.
The San Francisco slugger gave differing accounts this weekend, first saying this year would be his last - no matter whether he hits the 48 home runs he needs to break Hank Aaron's record.
Then Sunday night, he said he would play in 2007 if his surgically repaired knee is OK.
In a story posted on USA Today's Web site Sunday afternoon, Bonds said the game isn't fun anymore.
"I'm tired of all of the crap going on,'' he was quoted. "I want to play this year out, hopefully win, and once the season is over, go home and be with my family. Maybe then everybody can just forget about me.''
A few hours later, MLB.com reported Bonds said his health will determine how long he plays.
"If my knee holds up, I'll keep on going,'' he said. "I'm playing psychological games with myself right now. I don't want to set myself up for disappointment if things don't work out this season. So I go back and forth. Back and forth every day. These are the things that are going through my mind. This is what I'm struggling with.''
Bonds can be moody and sometimes changes his mind. In May 2004, he told reporters in New York that, "Half the stuff I say, I don't believe.''
Bonds turns 42 on July 24. He said he plans to report Tuesday to spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The All-Star left fielder was limited to 14 games last year following three knee operations. He has 708 homers, trailing only Babe Ruth (714) and Aaron (755).
"Breaking these records aren't a big thing to me,'' he told USA Today. "It's a great honor to pass Ruth, but it means more to baseball than it does to me. History is good for every sport, and I'm creating great interest for the game.''
Bonds told MLB.com that his conversation with USA Today was just indicative of his state of mind at that particular moment.
The Giants said they would not comment on the newspaper report until they heard from Bonds directly. Giants manager Felipe Alou, speaking before the USA Today story was posted, said he was looking forward to Bonds' arrival.
"I think everybody wants to see him,'' Alou said. "I haven't seen him since October, but we've talked on the phone. There's no urgency to talk except for the normal welcoming. There's a lot of time to discuss things.''
Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, wouldn't say whether Bonds has discussed retirement with him.
"I'd rather those conversations between Barry and myself remain private,'' Borris told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Bonds has twice hit more than 48 homers in a season. He hit a record 73 in 2001 and 49 the year before.
Bonds' accomplishments, however, have come under scrutiny.
He testified in 2003 before a federal grand jury investigating illegal steroids distribution. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in December 2004 that Bonds testified he used a clear substance and a cream given to him by a trainer, but said he didn't know they were steroids.
Greg Anderson, the slugger's personal trainer, pleaded guilty last July to steroid distribution and money laundering, and in October was sentenced to three months in prison and three months in home confinement.
"I'm clean, I've always been clean,'' Bonds said in the newspaper report.
He added: "Right now, I'm telling you, I don't even want to play next year. Baseball is a fun sport. But I'm not having fun. I love the game of baseball itself, but I don't like what it's turned out to be. I'm not mad at anybody. It's just that right now I am not proud to be a baseball player.''
Bonds didn't play until Sept. 12 last year because he was recovering from the knee operations. He hit five homers in 42 at-bats.
Bonds told the newspaper he is taking pain pills and sleeping pills.
"I don't have a choice. I can't even run that much anymore. How can I run? I don't have any cartilage in that knee. I'm bone on bone,'' he said. "But I can still hit. I can rake. I can hit a baseball.''
Bonds was more positive about his health in the MLB.com report, raving about a new knee brace.
"Right now, I feel like I can play for another five years, another 10 years,'' he said. "It's given me a new lease on life. That's how I'm feeling today. I'm ready to get going.''