Barry Bonds has had most of the last two days off and is headed to what many consider the best hitter’s park in the majors. Maybe it’s the right combination for Bonds to finally move a step closer to Babe Ruth.
Playing in a ballpark where he has hit more homers than any other visiting player, Bonds goes to Coors Field on Friday looking to end his season-long home run drought when the San Francisco Giants begin a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies.
“I look forward to playing the Giants because of Barry Bonds,” Rockies outfielder Cory Sullivan said. “There is an added atmosphere in those games.”
And maybe a friendlier one, something Bonds hasn’t seen this year playing on the road. Steroid allegations have turned Bonds into a villain in many fans’ eyes, consistently getting booed when playing away from home and having objects thrown at him on two occasions, including a syringe.
At least one Colorado player does not anticipate Bonds receiving such a negative reaction this weekend.
“I don’t expect our fans will react like they do in other places,” third baseman Garrett Atkins said. “This isn’t a place that throws stuff on the field. The fans are good about that here.”
Bonds has been very good at Coors Field, with 24 homers in 235 at-bats while hitting .340 despite insisting he’s not very fond of the ballpark.
No venue has seen Bonds put a ball over the wall this year in 28 at-bats over 11 games, the longest he’s gone into a season without homering since 1998. With 708 career homers, Bonds needs six to tie Ruth for second on the all-time list and the most by a left-handed hitter.
Bonds didn’t have a chance to get closer the last two days. The only action he saw in the second half of San Francisco’s four-game set at Arizona was as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning on Thursday, drawing his 16th walk of the season—sixth intentional—with runners on first and third.
Manager Felipe Alou had decided to give an extended break to the 41-year-old Bonds, who has been plagued by bad knees and a swollen elbow.
“There’s no injury,” Alou said. “He’s 100 percent going to play (Friday). Two days was going to be better than one day.”
One player who might be unhappy to see Bonds back in the starting lineup is Jason Jennings (1-0, 3.79 ERA), who will start Friday for Colorado. Bonds has hit .391 (9-for-23) with two homers against Jennings and has been walked 10 times by the right-hander.
“He’s still Barry Bonds,” Jennings said. “He can get hot quickly and go 10-for-10 and hit a few home runs. He hit a lot this spring. He could come in here and get hot.”
Colorado (8-7) has won all three of Jennings’ starts even though the number of runs he’s allowed has gone up with each outing. He did not get a decision on Saturday against Philadelphia as he surrendered four runs and eight hits, including two homers, in six innings of a 10-6 victory.
The Giants (9-6) counter with Jason Schmidt, looking to avoid the first 0-3 start of his 12-year career. Schmidt (0-2, 4.95), who didn’t suffer his third loss last season until June 11, has been given only one run of support in each of his two defeats.
The right-hander has run into control problems, walking 12 batters in his last 13 innings. He threw 114 pitches in six innings on Saturday as he walked seven, allowing two runs and three hits in a 3-1 loss at Los Angeles.
Schmidt had been 4-0 lifetime at Coors Field before losing his only start there last season. He’s 12-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 22 career games against the Rockies.