Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fit, Jovial Barry Bonds Appears Without Giants Cap

Barry Bonds appeared with Baseball Hall-of-Famer Juan Marichal in the Dominican Republic Wednesday and predicted he would hit the 22 homers he needs to pass Hank Aaron's 755 all-time career mark -- though it was not altogether clear he would do it as a Giant.

Bonds -- looking relaxed, jovial and fit -- was greeted by the ex-pitcher with Giants logos noticeably absent from Bonds' blue athletic suit and plain white baseball cap. Bonds will play in the 69-year-old Marichal's annual charity golf tournament Friday to raise funds for research for a cure of diabetes, a disease that especially afflicts Dominicans.

Bonds on Dec. 7 agreed to a proposed $16 million annual contract to play for the Giants but has been unable to consumate the deal. Thus Bonds has been left off the team's roster.

Observers have pointed out suspicions that the team and Bonds are at loggerheads over unresolved issues commonly thought to be related to pending legal difficulties with the U.S. attorney in San Francisco. The justice and treasury departments are investigating steroid abuse and possible perjury and income tax issues.

Bonds did not specifically mention contract talks, though his agent has claimed other teams are willing to sign Bonds if the Giants back out of the negotiations, an assertion that has critics scoffing.

Bonds' look of vitality and good cheer Wednesday suggested that health issues related to his 2005 knee surgery are finally behind him. In remarks quoted by sports reporter Kennedy Vargas of the El Siglo Spanish-language newspaper, Bonds confidently suggested that his impending passing of Aaron should assure that he will eventually go into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Bonds said former players Pete Rose and Mark McGwire also have accomplished enough in the game that they too should be voted in.