By Ryne Sandberg, Yahoo! Sports
September 9, 2005
If I were playing for the San Francisco Giants, I certainly would want Barry Bonds to come back this late in the season. He has earned the privilege to come back when he chooses. He is a future Hall of Famer and he is the best hitter of our time.
Bonds has already said that he wants to be 100 percent before coming back, so now that his right knee is feeling better, he wants to be a part of the action, and I think he'll want to be on the field as much as possible. He is a competitor. Why would his teammates not want him back?
And I think it would be unfair for anyone to speculate that Bonds is coming back for selfish reasons – just to get closer to Hank Aaron's all-time home run record. From my days playing against Barry until now, he has always been a true professional that respects the game.
I also don't think Bonds decided to return because the Giants got hot and put themselves back in the NL West race. Going into this weekend, San Francisco is tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for second place, but both teams are seven games behind the first-place San Diego Padres. After two devastating losses in L.A., the Giants have very little chance at making the postseason – yet Bonds still wants to return.
It seems like the time off has rejuvenated Barry. He definitely missed the game and he will come back strong. He even has been very cooperative with the media.
The fans' boos on the road will certainly be louder, now that the cloud of suspicion over Bonds has grown since Rafael Palmeiro's suspension. But Bonds is as mentally strong as a player can be. He has shown that he doesn't allow outside factors to affect his play. Having never really been booed in my career, I am amazed by his ability to stay focused.
Rumor has it that the Giants might want to trade Bonds, but I don't think he is ready to move on. If Barry still thinks he can play the outfield, I figure he would only want to play left field for the Giants. The fans in San Francisco love him.
Bonds might be 41, but he is still a very hard worker and a great athlete. I think he will play the final year of his contract with the Giants, and then make a move to the American League to be a designated hitter, probably for the Angels.
The major leagues' expansion of the rosters with their September callups brought back memories of the time when I joined the Phillies after my Triple-A season in 1981. As I walked into the Phillies' clubhouse, I was in awe. Seeing the uniforms of Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Larry Bowa and Manny Trillo in the lockers made me feel like a fish out of water.
I took the field for pregame and stood 30 feet behind Bowa at short until he asked me if I wanted any grounders. I replied with a simple, "OK." I was given a start in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and I played shortstop and got four at-bats. I collected my first hit off Mike Krukow with a soft line drive to right field. It was quite a thrill. I still have the ball and the bat, which was a gamer given to me by Bowa.
Those days as a September callup from the minors were very instrumental at the start of my career. Learning from the best was a great experience. I hope the new September callups take what they can from being in the big leagues for a few weeks.
Play Ball! Sign up for Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Baseball today.
Updated on Friday, Sep 9, 2005 4:01 pm, EDT
Email to a Friend | View Popular