Bonds wants positive press, but puts on another negative show


ATLANTA -- Barry Bonds may not reach the seats in this year's National League Championship Series, but he still can fill a notebook.

Bonds, the Pittsburgh Pirates' left fielder and odds-on favorite to win league Most Valuable Player honors, held court yesterday with reporters in the batting cage at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium before Game 2 of the NLCS.

For one thing, Bonds would like the writers and broadcasters covering the playoffs to be "positive" and not dwell so much on players' failures.

"We got a lot farther than most teams," said Bonds. "The bottom line is that we're here. You guys [media] would have a whole different tone if we win this."

That's probably true, but then, Bonds is hardly doing his part.

He was hot in September as the Pirates held off the Montreal Expos to win the National League East for the third straight season.

But Bonds, who was hitting .156 in his two previous NL playoff appearances, has one hit in six at-bats (.167) this year, with a walk.

He has struck out twice and made a bad throw to the plate in the second on an RBI single by Damon Berryhill, allowing the run to score and Berryhill and Ron Gant to move into scoring position. Both later scored.

When he got his first series hit, a single to left in the sixth with the Pirates already trailing 8-0, the Atlanta crowd cheered him derisively, to which Bonds responded by doffing his helmet.

Bonds' rationale for his paltry postseason batting average is simple: Braves pitchers aren't giving him anything good to hit.

"During the course of a 162-game season, you're going to get pitched to," Bonds said. "But, in seven games, you might not see that many good pitches. You're sitting out there thinking, 'Come on, come on.' "

Pittsburgh manager Jim Leyland said, "Right now I think Barry Bonds is trying to hit a five-run home run. He's trying to make an unbelievable play. He's pressing a little bit. That's not what we want him to do.

"We impressed upon him that he doesn't have to carry the team. He just needs to be a part of the team and make some contributions."

Bonds, who will be a free agent at the end of the year, said he could fit in with either the Braves or the San Diego Padres, the closest team to his off-season home.

But he added that he also could return to the Pirates, the only team he's ever played for. He dismissed talk that Pittsburgh recently had offered him a 30-year contract worth $60 million as "rumor."

On the subject of the MVP award, Bonds, who won it in 1990 and finished second to Atlanta's Terry Pendleton last season, said he's not really worried about whether he'll beat out Pendleton or San Diego's Gary Sheffield, who are considered his chief competition.

"I felt I deserved it last year, but you didn't hear me cry. You heard me do this," said Bonds, tipping his cap. "I could do my job just as well as anybody. I don't lack for confidence. Everybody out here knows that."

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