Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella has watched other teams pitch around San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds all season. But don’t expect him to follow suit.
Bonds makes his first-ever trip to Tropicana Field as the Devil Rays and Giants open a three-game interleague series.
Bonds ranks third on the all-time list with 674 home runs, trailing only Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755). The slugger, who has hit 16 homers this season, leads the majors with 79 walks this season, but Piniella said he doesn’t plan to add much to that total.
“Unless it’s a game-deciding situation, we’ll try to get him out,” Piniella said. “The fans come to the ballpark wanting to see him hit.”
Bonds faced Tampa Bay once before in San Francisco in 2002. He went 1-for-7 with two walks in two games of the three-game series.
“If you pitch to him and he beats you, you get criticized. If you walk him, you get criticized,” Piniella said. ”(The fans) want to see this guy swing the bat.”
Bonds will play as San Francisco’s designated hitter against the Devil Rays and might have to return to the Bay Area later in the week to attend the funeral of the mother of one of his closest childhood friends.
“Even the guys on the other team watch Barry,” said Tampa Bay’s Jose Cruz Jr., who played for San Francisco last season. “I think everybody should go watch him take batting practice. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s McGwire-like.
“He’s the only guy who I’ve ever seen who I thought was going to hit a home run every time up,”
Bonds did not play Monday, but Pedro Feliz homered twice and Yorvit Torrealba added a three-run shot as the Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 10-5 for their third win in four games since a three-game losing streak.
Feliz went 0-for-5 and stranded eight runners hitting behind Bonds in Saturday’s 11-2 loss.
“I made an adjustment,” Feliz said. “I was trying to do too much. I was more patient the last few at-bats. I feel very good.”
The Devil Rays lost 5-4 to the Baltimore Orioles Sunday, finishing their road trip 4-2—their best since a team-record 5-2 trip in August 1999.
“We played good the whole trip,” Piniella said. “If we can win four out of six the rest of the year, they don’t have to keep records.”