02/18/2003 5:14 pm ET
Bonds arrives, says 'I feel great'
By Chris Shuttesworth / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Many of Barry Bonds' teammates still can't think back on the World Series without feeling the pain of losing, the pangs of regret from being six outs away from winning the championship and failing to win it all.
Not Bonds. He was over it after a few words of wisdom from his wife, Liz, on the plane flight home.
"After the World Series, I didn't really know what ... I was supposed to feel," said an upbeat Bonds on Tuesday, fresh off one of his morning workouts and appearing to be a bit leaner than he was last season. "My wife said, 'You got your wish.' I said, 'What are you talking about?'
"[She said] 'You asked God your whole life, wished to be in the World Series, and you got your wish.' ... Right then, it was over with. No what-ifs, no worries, no nothing. She always looks to me for the answer, and all of a sudden, she gave me the answer I didn't know about. 'You got your wish, honey. That was it. You wanted to be in a World Series; you got your wish. Now cut it loose.' And it's been gone ever since."
Bonds, who will undergo a minor procedure to remove an old suture from his left elbow Wednesday, admitted he's now more specific in his prayers, asking instead to win the World Series. If that's going to happen in 2003, however, it'll be with a vastly new supporting cast.
Gone are Reggie Sanders, Kenny Lofton, David Bell, Russ Ortiz and the big bat of Jeff Kent that once gave the Giants a formidable 1-2 punch. In their place are Jose Cruz Jr., Marquis Grissom, Edgardo Alfonzo, Damian Moss and Ray Durham, and while Bonds is reserving judgment on whether this team can be as good as last year's National League champions, he's still happy and excited as he enters his 18th big league season.
"I feel great," said the 38-year-old Bonds. "It's really weird because every season after the season, I say, 'I can't do it anymore. I'm tired,' because it's such a long grind. Then I get to that January month and the adrenalin starts kicking in again.
"The National League is my heart," he said. "This is where I started, the San Francisco Giants organization. My father [Bobby], my godfather [Willie Mays], my history is here. And so this is where I want to do everything -- right here, in San Francisco, in this uniform."
"I just feel grateful that I'm just able to do what I'm doing this long. I'm happy. I'm happy with myself, I'm happy with this organization, I'm happy to be here and have the opportunity to play at home. I was happy to go to the World Series finally."
How much longer Bonds will do what he does is anyone's guess. Bonds admitted that age is wearing on him, as well as the unprecendented number of walks he's been issued the last few years. The slugger set single-season records for walks (surpassing his own record from 2001) and intentional walks last season.
Bonds said being walked all the time actually takes more of a toll on his body than if saw pitches to hit, since he's on his feet for much longer periods of time during the game.
"There's no downtime for me," he said. "I could be walked three times in a game, and I have to, OK, maybe try to steal a base, manufacture a run, go first to third; there could be two outs and I'm stuck on a base. Now I go grab my glove, go stand in the outfield. There's no downtime for me out there. Everybody can talk about walks all they want, but that is not an easy job to stand on your feet for four hours."
Despite that, and the fact that Bonds feels he could play "until I'm 50" in the American League, with its designated hitter, he has no plans to take his potent maplewood bats to the AL.
This year that could include passing his godfather for third place on the all-time home run list. He needs 47 homers to do so, and he's also seven stolen bases away from becoming the first-ever 500-500 -- make that 600-500 (600 homers, 500 stolen bases) -- man in Major League history.
So Bonds asks forgiveness if he occassionally has trouble chasing down a ball hit into the gap, especially in a day game following a night game in which he walked three or four times.
"There's no one in this world, athletes, entertainers or what not, that wake up in the morning and say, 'I just want to embarrass myself so bad that I just want to look like a [jerk],'" said Bonds. "No one does that. You do the best you can, to the best of your ability and whatever your body can give you at that time.
"But you give me a day off, I'll make it there and back. You've got to give me a little slack here and there. There's just things I can't do that I used to be able to do, but there's a lot of good things I do worth more than bad."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.