The Atlanta closer looks forward to renewing his long-time rivalry with the Giants slugger when the Braves open a three-game series at San Francisco.
“Unless my manager tells me to walk him, I’m not going to walk him just to walk him,” said the 36-year-old Smoltz, who has three saves in eight relief appearances this season. He has surrendered just two hits and no runs while striking out six in his last five.
“I just feel that if I throw the pitches I want to throw in the areas that I want to throw them, I like my chances. If you pitch scared and you are scared, you’re not going to just give up runs to Barry Bonds but to anyone.”
Bonds is 3-for-10 lifetime against Smoltz, but two of those hits went deep. He leads the league with nine homers this season for a career total of 667, third on the all-time list. Bonds leads the majors with a .512 batting average and a .700 on-base average.
“He’s the best player I’ve ever pitched against,” Smoltz continued. “I’ve pitched against him for a long time and I obviously have the utmost respect for him. But I’ve never approached him in a situation where I was scared of him.”
Bonds has not homered since April 20, against San Diego. The six-time MVP failed to tie the major league mark for consecutive games with a home run, ending his streak at seven the following night. One more homer will give him and his late father, Bobby, an even 1,000.
He went 1-for-2 on Sunday as the Giants were routed 9-0 by the Dodgers for their ninth loss in 11 games. Bonds walked seven times in the series as San Francisco won just one of the three games.
“We’ve been struggling, but we won Saturday and we’re starting to come together,” Giants right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds said. “It’s early, too. With Atlanta coming in, we know they’re perennial champions and division winners. We’ve got to make sure they don’t have a warm welcome.”
The Braves are coming off a 7-2 victory over the Marlins on Sunday, their sixth win in the last nine games. Mark DeRosa went 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored.
“It’s a big game for us,” DeRosa said. “It’s real early in the season, but it’s a game that puts us on the flight to San Francisco with a smile on our face.”