Tony Gwynn: Trouble could follow Bonds all summer
Barry Bonds likely can expect the same treatment from the fans in Arizona as he got during spring training, and he might not mind as long as his performance at the plate is similar.
Still seeking his first homer since exhibition play, Bonds hopes to start contributing more to the San Francisco Giants’ early success when they open a four-game series against the Diamondbacks on Monday at Chase Field.
The Giants (7-4) have won three of four and have yet to lose a series despite Bonds getting off to an extremely slow start.
He went hitless in two at-bats and was hit by a pitch leading off the eighth inning in Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bonds did draw his 11th walk of the season, but is 4-for-23 this season and has yet to homer in nine games as he remains third on baseball’s all-time home runs list at 708.
Maybe returning to the Valley of the Sun can get Bonds going. He looked very good there in spring training, batting .478 with four home runs in 10 exhibition games despite consistently being booed by the crowds.
He’s hit 33 homers in 103 games against the Diamondbacks, including 17 homers in 52 games at Chase Field. Bonds has homered four times in 24 career at-bats against Miguel Batista (1-0, 2.84), who gets the start for Arizona on Monday.
The Giants have won seven of the past nine games with the Diamondbacks and could extend their road win streak at Arizona to seven games with a victory Monday.
The Diamondbacks (5-7) are coming off Sunday’s 8-5 loss to the Houston Astros and are just 2-4 at home.
Left fielder Luis Gonzalez will have another opportunity to hit his 500th career double. He’s been sitting at 499 for four straight games and with one more would join Bonds as the only active players with at least 300 homers and 500 doubles.
“I want to get it done because I want people to be here for it,” he said. “I know I will get a double somewhere. I’m just hoping to get it done here at home.”
One player who will be home for the Giants on Sunday is first baseman Lance Niekro, who left Sunday night for Lakeland, Fla. for a three-day bereavement leave to attend funeral services for his maternal grandfather.
Niekro didn’t start Sunday because of a sore right foot and continues to be bothered by right shin splints. His status is expected to be checked while in Phoenix after his return from Florida.
“It’s still sore and I can even see a little favoring it at home plate,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “He’s hurting. The trainer (Stan Conte) recommends rest, and after those days off they’ll check his foot again.”
With Niekro out, San Francisco is expected to call up a position player from Triple-A Fresno.
Niekro is batting .212 this season with one homer and five RBIs. Backup Mark Sweeney will take over first base during his absence.
The Giants send lefty Jeff Fassero (1-0, 6.23 ERA) to the mound to make his first start of the season in place of the injured Noah Lowry. Fassero has given up three runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings this year.
The veteran left-hander appeared in 48 games for the Giants last season, going 4-7 with a 4.05 ERA. In six starts, though, he was 1-4 with a 6.43 ERA.
Batista has faced Colorado in both of his starts this season and pitched fairly well. He was outstanding in his season debut, striking out 11 in seven innings while allowing two runs and four hits of Arizona’s 12-5 victory on April 6. He was pulled after 5 2-3 innings in a 5-4 win on Wednesday as he gave up four runs—two earned—and nine hits with five strikeouts.
The right-hander is 4-6 with a 3.83 ERA in 21 career appearances, including 14 starts, against the Giants.