As usual, don’t believe the first thing you hear quoted from Barry Bonds.
Less than 24 hours after USA Today quoted Barry Bonds saying he was ready to retire after 2006, saying, “Maybe then everybody can just forget about me,” MLB.com has Bonds clarifying those statements.
“If I can play [in 2007], I’m going to play; If I can’t, I won’t,” Bonds told MLB.com.
There has been a lot of discussion and theorizing about Bonds’ future beyond 2006, even done by Bonds himself. Bonds has admitted several times to be considering retirement this offseason, with most of the consideration coming from the health of Bonds’ knee, which was the focus of multiple surgeries in 2005 and cost him most of the season.
Bonds continues to insist that Hank Aaron’s home run record is not a consideration for whether he continues to play. Bonds has 708 home runs, 6 behind Babe Ruth and 47 behind Hank Aaron’s career record. In USA Today, he was quoted as saying “Breaking these records aren't a big thing to me…It's a great honor to pass Ruth, but it means more to baseball than it does to me. History is good for every sport, and I'm creating great interest for the game."
Instead, the primary issue is his knee. In USA Today, he sounded pessimistic in his outlook, talking about taking pain pills because “"I don't have a choice. I can't even run that much anymore. How can I run? I don't have any cartilage in that knee. I'm bone on bone," he said. "But I can still hit. I can rake. I can hit a baseball."
However, on MLB.com, things sounded much more positive. He was quoted saying “"The brace feels great, it's awesome. Right now, I feel like I can play for another five years, another 10 years. It's given me a new lease on life. That's how I'm feeling today. I'm ready to get going."
Bonds says that he thought he was having a personal conversation with the reporter for USA Today, and was trying to make an example of his state of mind that day.
Bonds is in the final year of his contract with the Giants and can become a free agent. Speculation on his future changes as often as his moods, whether it be retire, move to the American League to be a designated hitter or stay in San Francisco as his longtime team hosts its first All-Star game in its new park.
"All I can say is that I have a contract for this year, so as far as I know, I'm committed through this year," Bonds said. "If my knee doesn't hold up, then it's over.”
Bonds was quoted earlier in the offseason saying he wanted to lose 15-20 pounds, but will likely report to camp only 5 pounds lighter. “I'm just not a skinny person, dude, I'm not. I never will be.” Position players are supposed to report Monday, February 20th and have their first full workouts Tuesday, but as always, Bonds is allowed a little leeway in his schedule, and Bonds isn’t sure if he’d be in camp on time for that.
However, one thing that Bonds remains steadfast about is his always rumored connection with steroids."I'm clean, I've always been clean.”
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