ST. LOUIS – Barry Bonds pinched a nerve in his hip while swinging during Thursday’s series finale at Cincinnati, then had his back adjusted during the game to alleviate the problem. He played right on through it.
The San Francisco slugger reported feeling “good” Friday before the opener of a three-game series in St. Louis. He sat out Wednesday afternoon’s contest against the Reds to rest his sore legs.
“My body’s fine. My knees are fine,” Bonds said, leaning back in his clubhouse chair before batting practice. “I have no problems with my knees. People don’t understand the baseball grind.”
Bonds headed into the weekend series with 751 home runs, four from tying Hank Aaron’s record of 755. The sellout crowd at Busch Stadium booed Bonds lustily when he stepped into the batter’s box in the first inning. He grounded into a double play. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he hadn’t spoken to his star player about the hip problem. “I don’t know anything about it,” the skipper said.
“I know that it’s flared up on him before.”
Bonds, who turns 43 on July 24, said he has been eating a lot and drinking plenty of water to deal with the heat and humidity during this Midwest road trip. He said he is even more “tired” than usual after having a night game Tuesday, the day game Wednesday and another night game Thursday.
But he could play all three games this weekend against the Cardinals before the All-Star break. It helps that one of his personal trainers, Greg Oliver, arrived in St. Louis to work out with Bonds, ice him down after games and generally just help him do things to recover faster and get loose.
Still, Bonds is as relaxed as ever and having a little fun as the attention surrounding his home run chase mounts by the day.
He joked Friday that National League manager Tony La Russa of the World Series champion Cardinals might bat him “eighth” in the All-Star game. Bonds also plans to “bunt more” to improve his batting average.
“I think I’m going to bunt from now on,” Bonds said with a grin. “I’ve got to get a couple hits. I’ve got to bunt more to see if I can run.”
He has been running well for most of the season’s first half, even beating out infield singles and stealing bases on occasion.
“I can run,” Bonds said. “If there’s a dog there, I’ll run a lot faster.”
La Russa said he had decided where to bat Bonds in Tuesday’s All-Star game in San Francisco, but wouldn’t give up the information.
Bonds opted not to hold a formal session with the media in the dugout as he has done on the first day in most road cities. He also skipped it in Cincinnati on Tuesday.
“No mas,” Bonds said, which means “no more” in Spanish.
As for this weekend’s series, La Russa has been known to have his pitchers go after Bonds, rather than pitch around him. La Russa said he isn’t going to let Bonds’ chase affect his decisions during a game.
“If we play against Mark (McGwire), if we play against Bonds, it’s exactly the same,” La Russa said. “The idea is for the Giants and Cardinals to play the game.
“It’s us against their team. And the idea is to win the game. … So when Bonds comes up there it’s like every year up against them and what can we do to prevent him from helping them beat us in the game. Period.”
AP Sports Writer R.B. Fallstrom contributed to this story.