Barry Bonds soaked in the love throughout the Giants’ just-concluded seven-game homestand, celebrating his 43rd birthday and receiving a standing ovation from a sellout crowd prior to nearly every at-bat. But now, as the Giants embark on a six-game road swing against perhaps their two most hated rivals, the confines could become a lot less cozy.
Bonds continues his pursuit of Hank Aaron’s career home run mark of 755 on the road. His total stands at 754 after he hit one homer in the six games he played this week, including Sunday’s 8-5 loss to the Florida Marlins in which he had one single in four at-bats.
The Giants begin their trip Tuesday night with the first of three games in Los Angeles against the first-place Dodgers, then move on to San Diego for a three-game series with the Padres.
Before Sunday’s game, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy could only smile when asked if he thought L.A. fans would be even more vocal than usual with Bonds so close to baseball history.
“I don’t know if they can take it up another notch,” Bochy said. “They’re probably the loudest of any of the places we play [already].”
Bonds, of course, is being dogged by accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs, something fans in both L.A. and San Diego are well aware of. By coincidence, the Dodgers will host a steroid awareness clinic prior to Thursday night’s game and Bonds had a syringe thrown in his direction by a Padres fan on opening day in 2006.
Still, Bonds has often been booed during introductions on the road this year, only to hear some cheers mixed in after hitting a homer, and Bochy said he hoped there would be some applause should Bonds tie or surpass Aaron in the coming week.
“I certainly would hope so, because of the history of it,” Bochy said. “[It would be unfortunate] if it weren’t acknowledged.”
Meanwhile, the Dodgers have announced their three starters for this week’s series and Bonds has had some success against each of them. The left fielder has actually hit Tuesday night’s starter Brad Penny — perhaps the National League’s leading Cy Young Award candidate — the best, having gone 7-for-25 (.280) with three homers against the hard-throwing right-hander. Penny is 13-1 with a 2.51 ERA so far this season.
Mark Hendrickson will start Wednesday for the Dodgers. Bonds is 2-for-8 with no home runs and four walks against the 6-foot-10 lefty. On Thursday night, L.A. will send former Giant right-hander Brett Tomko to the mound, and Bonds is 6-for-22 (.273) with a homer and 13 walks against him.
Bochy said the team would “not change [its] approach” and have Bonds play more or less than usual because he is on the verge of history. And San Francisco center fielder Dave Roberts, a former Dodger and Padre, said he hoped that if Bonds breaks the record in L.A., the fans would celebrate it. “You would hope they would understand the moment and embrace it,” Roberts said in the clubhouse after the game. “And then go about their business.”
How should opposing fans react to No. 756?
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