Bonds won’t return with Giants for ’08, team confirms
(photo via mlb.com, story via espn.com)
The slugger first reported he won’t be returning on his Web site. The Giants planned an 8 p.m. ET news conference Friday to announce the decision.
“Although I am disappointed, I’ve always said baseball is a business — and I respect their decision,” Bonds said on the site. “However, I am saddened and upset that I was not given an earlier opportunity to properly say goodbye to you, my fans, and celebrate with the city throughout the season as I truly believe this was not a last minute decision by the Giants, but one that was made some time ago.”
Bonds, 43, said on the site that he was told Thursday by owner Peter Magowan the team would not be re-signing him despite his performance having “far exceeded any expectations the Giants had.”
Bonds’ career as a Giant ends after 15 seasons, the last during which he surpassed Hank Aaron for the all-time home run record. The 22-year veteran sat at 762 entering the Giants’ Friday night game against the visiting Reds.
“I would have loved nothing more than to retire as a Giant in the place where I call home and have shared so many momentous moments with all of you, but there is more baseball in me and I plan on continuing my career,” Bonds said. “My quest for a World Series ring continues.”
Bonds, who received a $15.8 million, one-year contract this season, has been out since Saturday with a sprained big right toe, though he was expected to play in the four-game series with Cincinnati, which began Thursday.
The Giants host the Padres for a three-game set beginning Monday before closing 2008 on the road with three games against the Dodgers.
“No one is more aware of what Barry has meant to the Giants and San Francisco than I am,” Magowan said in the team’s news release. “He gave our ownership group instant credibility when we bought the team in 1993 and he helped transform the Giants into a consistent winner.”
Shadowed by steroid speculation for the past few years, Bonds has hit 28 homers this season. The seven-time NL MVP is batting .279 with 66 RBIs.
Bonds has been mostly healthy, playing 125 games. The left fielder had 2,935 career hits entering Friday.
Despite Bonds’ personal achievements, the season has been a disappointing one for the Giants, who are mired deep in last place in the NL West.
“We’ve heard for a long time that the Giants are an old team and want to get younger, so we’re not surprised,” said Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris. “Barry is their oldest player, but qualitatively, he’s their best player.”
“He’s still planning on playing next year, irrespective of whether it’s an AL or NL team,” he added.
Bonds has long denied using performance-enhancing drugs, but fans across the country have greeted him with placards inscribed with asterisks — baseball-fan shorthand for the belief that his record is hopelessly tainted by allegations of steroid abuse.
Even the person who paid $752,467 for Bonds’ historic 756th home run has threatened to stamp it with an asterisk.
The mark was broken on Aug. 7 in San Francisco, where Bonds had become entangled with federal prosecutors and with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the lab at the center of the steroids scandal in professional sports.
The perjury investigation is focused on whether Bonds lied in 2003, when he told the federal grand jury investigating BALCO that he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds said his personal trainer told him he was taking flaxseed oil and arthritis balm.
His childhood friend and trainer, Greg Anderson, has spent nearly a year in prison for refusing to testify to the grand jury investigating Bonds’ alleged perjury.
On the field, a championship is about the only thing missing on Bonds’ resume.
He played in his 13th All-Star Game this summer, an event held in his home ballpark. The waterfront stadium was constantly sold out as Bonds moved closer to history, and his drawing power certainly played a role in the Giants re-signing him as a free agent in the offseason.
Bonds has reached the postseason seven times, and a World Series title barely eluded him in 2002. The Giants were just five outs from the title in Game 6 against the Anaheim Angels, but they lost that lead and also got beaten in Game 7. Bonds hit .471 in those seven games with four home runs, and the Angels walked him 13 times.
A day after last season ended, Magowan said that Bonds would no longer be the centerpiece of the organization and that the team would change its formula for winning.
Bonds then checked out the free-agent market, and a couple of teams — including St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego — showed early interest. But there seemed to be a pervasive feeling around baseball that Bonds would ultimately rejoin the Giants and he did.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.