LOS ANGELES – The single-season home-run record has been Barry Bonds' for nearly six years. And what glorious years they've been.
The career home-run record should be his in weeks, an event for which the commissioner and the standing home-run king might have other plans. Things come up.
While these are fine and hallowed records, and presumably mean something to him in the ways of work and reward and whatever else, Bonds said Tuesday that Alex Rodriguez can have them both.
"I would be ecstatic," he said. "It wouldn't bother me one bit."
As for where that would leave him, Bonds laughed.
"I'm happy with me," he said.
Bonds, at 42, has been on a decent enough pace – six home runs, five since April 13 – to stand at 740 career home runs, an inevitable 15 behind Hank Aaron. But, it is Rodriguez who has taken April with an astonishing 14 home runs, again raising the possibility that Bonds will hold the career record for as long as it takes Rodriguez to get there.
Rodriguez, 31, has 478 career home runs. Bonds, at about the same age, had 298.
"A-Rod, I'm so happy for him," Bonds said. "It's great. It's phenomenal to watch. I hope he hits a hundred. I really do. … Go on A-Rod, do your thing. Keep that look in your eye."
Bonds arrived here on Tuesday for the opener of a three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went 0-for-2 with two walks in a 5-3 victory – the Giants' sixth straight. It is still ugly for him at Chavez Ravine, assuming he notices, assuming he cares. Part of it is the San Francisco Giants uniform, of course, and the other part, well, you know. The people chant things, toss cartoonish steroid bottles onto the warning track behind him, boo, all part of a traveling show for which only the faces change.
And, he arrived a very productive hitter, out-homering the rest of the Giants' lineup, 6-2, and the rest of the Giants' roster, 6-4.
He is reasonably healthy, swinging with a sound elbow and over sturdier knees. He hardly ever misses a mistake, and somehow gets pitches to hit in spite of a lineup that should not allow them.
"He's something else, man," Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery said. "He's got the quickest bat I've ever seen. He reminds me of Tony Gwynn with power."
The pitches come, Flannery said, because the gargantuan Bonds remains a notch in pitchers' belts.
They get their early strikes, Flannery said, "Then they get competitive and they want to go for the kill. They get off the mound and say, 'I can get him.' "
Then they get back on the mound.
"It's a lot like Gwynn," he said. "You get two strikes, and Bonds has the advantage. Now he's seen more pitches."
And, so, Bonds will overtake Aaron. He dismissed a question about Aaron and commissioner Bud Selig's whereabouts on the occasion.
"I don't have any thoughts about it," he said. "I have a lot of respect for them and that's how I'll leave it."
"I don't even want to talk about that anymore," he said. "You guys can count it down on your own."
His emphasis Tuesday was his team and a pitching staff that's covering for the batting order outside of the cleanup spot, and then A-Rod, whose 14 home runs came in the New York Yankees' first 18 games. Going on six years ago, in the first weeks of a season in which he would hit 73, Bonds hit 14 in 14 games, and then they just kept coming.
And now, when he watches Rodriguez, he knows. He's been in that batters' box, seen the ball in the pitchers' hands, known if it is hittable or not before it has cleared the pitchers' fingertips. He's been outside that box as well, and that can be the challenge.
"It's just keeping your head straight, man," he said. "That's the most important thing."
Maybe he's enjoying this for Rodriguez. Maybe he's tired of carrying around the record, as heavy as it's already gotten.
"A-Rod's a great player," Bonds said. "If anyone's capable of doing it, it's him. … Just watch his eyes. It's remarkable."