Bonds optimistic it won't take long

The Baltimore Sun

SAN DIEGO -- A day before taking his quest for the career home run record back home to San Francisco, Barry Bonds sat back and took a deep breath to enjoy his 755th home run.

"There's no pressure on me to do this right away. If I keep my mechanics right, you guys won't be around long," said Bonds, who sat out yesterday's game a day after tying Hank Aaron's all-time mark.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Bonds will be back in the lineup when the Giants open a seven-game homestand tonight at AT&T; Park, where Bonds has hit most of his milestone homers and where he has long said he wants to pass Aaron.

"He's so well-loved there. And [the fans] certainly deserve it," Bochy said. "We're hoping that it does happen this homestand for our fans. And for Barry."

During a long, informal session with reporters before yesterday's game against the San Diego Padres, he seemed at ease, openly discussing the pressure of chasing one of the most storied records in sports.

"I can't explain it yet. I don't know what to think," said Bonds, who broke out in rashes and became physically ill as he drew nearer to Aaron's record. "Each one gets harder. Each time gets tougher.

"It's the all-time home run record."

However, Bonds said, much of the stress and expectation disappeared after he finally matched Aaron with a first-inning home run Saturday night, the 755th of his career.

Bonds said he did little celebrating Saturday night and didn't even bother to watch a replay of the historic homer, which traveled an estimated 382 feet.

"[I] sat down in the hotel for a minute," he said. "Took my kid up to bed. I've got an 8-year-old. There's nothing I could do. I don't have a nanny or something."

Bonds said he received a number of congratulatory calls, including one from Ken Griffey Jr., and got messages from Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez. He was also congratulated by Padres pitcher Clay Hensley, who gave up the record-tying blast.

More telling, however, is the list of people who haven't called, including commissioner Bud Selig and Aaron, who has turned his back on Bonds because of widespread speculation the Giants slugger used steroids and other performance-enhancing substances.

Selig headed home to Milwaukee yesterday and is likely to miss Bonds' next three games.

Next up for Bonds is 22-year-old rookie left-hander John Lannan of the Washington Nationals, who was born less than nine months after Bonds signed his first pro contract.

"We have a game plan - go out there and throw strikes," said Lannan, who made his major league debut last week. "If Barry comes up, if I have a chance to pitch to him, I will. If the opportunity calls to pitch around him, I will.

"You don't really think about the one-on-one matchup. You think about the whole game itself. It's not that much of an individual thing." Except when you're facing the individual who, with one more swing, will become the greatest home run hitter in history.

"I know exactly what I'm capable of doing," Bonds said. "I know if I get into a position to do something, you're in trouble."

Note -- Brian Johnson said it's hard to dispute that former teammate Bonds cheated by using performance-enhancing drugs. "You can make a fair argument that he may have been cheating," Johnson, a Giant in 1997 and 1998, said on ESPN's Outside the Lines. "Based on what has been documented, its hard to dispute that argument."

Kevin Baxter and Bill Shaikin write for the Los Angeles Times. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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