Bonds Held Out of Starting Lineup Again

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

CHICAGO – Exactly a week before Barry Bonds’ 43rd birthday, the effects of his age started to really show.

Bonds was held out of the starting lineup Tuesday for a second straight night by San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy so the slugger could rest his sore lower body. Bonds pinch-hit in the eighth inning and lined out to left, stretching his batting funk to 0-for-21.

The slumping Bonds says he’s done calling himself an “embarrassment” or making any other self-deprecating remarks during his pursuit of Hank Aaron’s home run record of 755. He is four away from tying the Hammer but hasn’t connected since a two-run shot July 3 at Cincinnati.

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“I did everything but bite myself and spit on myself,” Bonds said while sitting at his locker Tuesday, referring to his postgame eruption of two days earlier after the Giants were swept at home by the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.

“But that’s over with. That’s past tense.”

Bochy initially had hinted Bonds might sit out Tuesday, but then said after Monday’s game that No. 25 would be a go the next night against the Chicago Cubs. Bonds said his shins and hamstrings are hurting.

Bonds hasn’t sat in back-to-back games since June 5-6 at Arizona when he dealt with shin splints. Bonds also acknowledged in recent days that his legs, feet and toes are swollen _ and that he’s just plain exhausted.

He said during the weekend, when he played all 30 innings against the Dodgers including a 12-inning game Saturday, that he was still recovering from the All-Star festivities last week in San Francisco.

Now, Bochy said he will try to avoid playing Bonds so regularly in afternoon games that follow night games, saying, “it’s going to change my strategy.”

“He needs another day to freshen him up,” Bochy said. “That series against L.A. looks like it took its toll on him. We’ll see where he is (Wednesday). He’s pretty sore and is getting treatment and icing down. He may not be able to go (Wednesday) either. That’s something I knew would happen in the season, that he may need a two- or three-day break.”

Bochy figures the physical and mental break are good for Bonds, who turns 43 next Tuesday.

Is the time off helping?

“How can I take a mental break when you’re standing over my locker?” Bonds said, chuckling. “That’s kind of dumb.”

He was scratched for Monday night’s 3-2 series-opening loss at Wrigley Field after telling the trainers he didn’t feel good enough to play.

The Giants play consecutive afternoon games Wednesday and Thursday against the Cubs before a three-game weekend series against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

“It’s a day-night game with a left-hander tonight,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said before Tuesday night’s game. “With (Carlos) Zambrano (Wednesday), I’m sure he’ll be in there. It’s not easy for an older player. It’s difficult.”

Zambrano, a right-hander, is an 11-game winner this season.

A federal grand jury is investigating whether Bonds perjured himself when he testified in 2003 in the BALCO steroid distribution case that he hadn’t knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs. The panel’s term could expire as soon as Thursday, but prosecutors also might ask a judge to extend the grand jury’s tenure.

Bonds is mired in his worst hitless stretch since his record-breaking 2001 season. He played in 81 of the club’s first 90 games through Monday night and was selected as a starter for last Tuesday’s All-Star game in his home ballpark _ his first All-Star game since 2004.

So, he didn’t exactly have much down time before the grueling Dodgers series.

“Yeah, it was a lot,” Bonds said. “It’s all right. I’ve done it before. I know I can. I’ve done it. That’s baseball, brother. You get tired sometimes in the game of baseball.”

Bonds was in an 0-for-17 funk before hitting his 746th homer against the Rockies on May 27. He had another hitless stretch of 21 at-bats from April 5-12, 2001 _ the year he broke Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record with 73 _ and had a career-worst 0-for-23 drought from July 6-20, 1986, during his rookie year.

When asked about his problems at the plate Sunday, Bonds answered: “It’s an embarrassment for me to be wearing this (expletive deleted) uniform ’cause of the way I’m playing. There, that’s it. Now go away.”

He proceeded to flip over a laundry cart as he walked through the clubhouse.

On Tuesday, the seven-time NL MVP was again questioned about what might be keeping him from hitting.

“I went through that already,” he said. “I’m done with that. New chapter.”

A service of the Associated Press(AP)