Bonds draws union's interest

The lack of offers to Barry Bonds will be examined by the Major League Baseball Players Association as part of its annual review of the free-agent market.

Less than two weeks before Opening Day, the home run king, 43, remains unsigned.


"He's in playing shape right now. He just hasn't hit off live pitching," Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said yesterday. "I've had conversations with Barry. It would probably take him about two weeks to get ready."

Bonds was indicted in November on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, charges stemming from 2003 grand jury testimony in which he denied knowingly using illegal performance-enhancing drugs. The seven-time National League Most Valuable Player pleaded not guilty.


The Tampa Bay Rays acknowledged last month that they had internal discussions about the prospect of pursuing Bonds. St. Louis manager Tony La Russa also showed interest in Bonds, but Cardinals management decided against opening talks.

Borris said Bonds was working out in the Los Angeles area. He wouldn't comment on the status of any negotiations.

"He wants to play," Borris said.

After speaking with the Los Angeles Angels during his annual tour of spring training camps, union head Donald Fehr said his staff will examine possible collusion against Bonds and others.

"We always look at the free-agent markets every year and make judgments about them, and if we come to the conclusion with respect to any player that there's a matter worth pursuing, we'll pursue it," he said. "But I'm not going to make any suggestions or accusations unless and until we come to that conclusion."

Bonds hit .276 last year with 28 homers, 66 RBIs and a major league-leading 132 walks. He made $19.3 million, and the Giants decided to let him go after 15 seasons in San Francisco.

Yankees -- Pitchers Mariano Rivera and Mike Mussina sailed through minor league starts. Rivera worked two perfect innings, striking out four, in a Double-A game. The closer threw 16 of his 23 pitches for strikes. Mussina gave up three runs, two in his final inning, and seven hits over six innings in a Triple-A game. The right-hander threw 53 strikes in 72 pitches. Hideki Matsui, who had knee surgery in November, played left field in the Triple-A game and went 1-for-4.

Phillies -- Cole Hamels pitched six strong innings and Geoff Jenkins hit a two-run homer to lead Philadelphia over Tampa Bay, 4-2, in an exhibition game in Clearwater, Fla. Hamels retired the first 14 batters before Evan Longoria homered in the fifth. Hamels entered with a 12.60 ERA and left with more confidence. He shook off a poor spring last year -- 1-3 with a 6.10 ERA -- and went 15-5 with a 3.39 ERA during the season.


Reds -- It's back to the bullpen for Jeremy Affeldt. The left-hander, 28, signed with Cincinnati for a shot at its starting rotation, but after a rough spring as a starter, he's looking at a role similar to the one he had last year with NL champion Colorado: late-inning left-hander in relief.

Obituary -- Bob Purkey, who pitched in three All-Star Games and one World Series with the Reds, has died. He was 78. Purkey died Sunday, according to the Paul L. Henney Funeral Home in Bethel Park, Pa. Purkey went 129-115 with a 3.79 ERA over 13 seasons with the Pirates, Reds, and Cardinals, last appearing in a game in 1966. He pitched a complete game in the Reds' 3-2 loss to the Yankees in Game 3 of the 1961 World Series.