San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds insists that hostile fans weren’t a distraction in his first series of the season. Nonetheless, he’s probably looking forward to playing in front of some friendlier faces.
Bonds and the Giants (1-1) take the field in San Francisco for the first time this season when they host the Atlanta Braves on Thursday in the opener of a four-game series.
Bonds is under investigation by baseball for alleged steroid abuse, but has repeatedly denied using performance-enhancing drugs. He was booed by fans in each of his first two games in San Diego, including Wednesday’s 3-1 victory.
Bonds was expected to sit out Wednesday’s game so he would be ready for Thursday afternoon’s home opener. However, because of a rainout Tuesday, he started and reached base three times without getting a hit before being taken out in the top of the sixth.
“Later I wouldn’t do that—play him in a night game, then the travel to play a 1:05 p.m. game—but he needs the at-bat,” manager Felipe Alou said.
Bonds had a syringe thrown at him and was booed mercilessly in Monday’s season opener, prompting a greater security presence Wednesday. The reaction was a little more subdued, but still hostile.
He insisted the media was the only distraction for him despite that fact he was being filmed for his cable reality show.
“(Starter) Matt Morris pitched a great game, guys got some key hits and I didn’t really have much to do with it,” said Bonds, who has 708 homers and is seven shy of passing Babe Ruth for second on the all-time list. “I just wish we scored earlier and not put that much pressure on him.”
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said he is excited about squaring off against Bonds.
“You look forward to any time Bonds is playing because he’s that good,” Cox said.
The Braves (2-1) took two of three in their first series of the season in Los Angeles, including Wednesday’s 9-8 win. Ryan Langerhans, who homered in Monday’s season-opening, 11-10 win, hit a two-out ground-rule double in the eighth to drive in the go-ahead run for the Braves.
Atlanta had 34 hits and scored 24 runs in the series but allowed the Dodgers to get 39 hits and score 23 times.
“Wild series—tons of hitting,” Cox said. “It played like Coors Field.”
Starter Horacio Ramirez, who allowed eight hits and five runs in three innings, left in the fourth inning after straining his left hamstring while running out a bunt single and will probably be placed on the disabled list, according to Cox. John Thomson, who started the season in the bullpen, would take his place in the rotation.
Chipper Jones was held out of the game because of what Cox called “a little soreness in his stomach,” but Jones said he planned to play Thursday.
San Francisco will send Noah Lowry to the mound in the series opener. Lowry won a team-high 13 games last season while also losing 13 and earning a 3.78 ERA. The 25-year-old lefty has made two career starts against the Braves, going 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA.
Lowry, who went 8-4 with a 2.43 ERA after last season’s All-Star break, signed a four-year contract on Sunday that guarantees him at least $9.25 million.
“He’s a great athlete, fields his position, holds runners on, is a good hitter and baserunner,” Alou said.
Lowry will square off against Atlanta’s Jorge Sosa. After being acquired from Tampa Bay in a seemingly minor deal and starting last season in the bullpen, he earned a spot in rotation and finished the year 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA.
Sosa has made two career appearances against the Giants, including one start last season, going 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA. He allowed just one earned run and six hits in six innings of a 6-1 win over San Francisco on July 18.