Originally created 02/27/06

Bonds could play in exhibitions as early as Friday



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Barry Bonds could play his first spring training game in two years Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers, although San Francisco manager Felipe Alou said he doesn't know whether he'd use the slugger as an outfielder or a designated hitter.

Alou said Sunday that it is unlikely that Bonds would travel to Phoenix on Thursday to play the exhibition opener against Milwaukee but would probably play the next day at Scottsdale Stadium if his right knee feels up to it.

"I have to check with him the day before the game," Alou said.

Bonds took batting practice for a fifth straight day Sunday and took part in some fielding drills as he shows signs that he is healthier than he was last year after having three knee operations.

"He told me he feels very, very good," Alou said. "Bonds is having fun. Last year he didn't because he was hurt."

Alou said the team hadn't decided whether to ask for permission to use Bonds as a designated hitter in exhibitions against National League teams but said he hasn't ruled out playing Bonds for a couple of innings in left field.

Alou said Bonds would likely play March 5 in an exhibition at Scottsdale Stadium against the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic. The Giants will be allowed to use the designated hitter in that game.

He said there had been no talk about moving Bonds up to second in the order as he speculated in January. He said it was most likely Bonds would hit from his customary cleanup spot, although he could bat third.

"We'll see where we can hit him that will benefit him the most and the team the most," Alou said. "As far as I'm concerned right now, it's cleanup. That's what we're looking at now but we haven't played one game yet."

Alou also said he had no concerns about whether Bonds' proposed reality TV show on ESPN would serve as a distraction in the clubhouse.

ESPN is working with Bonds for a behind-the-scenes look at his quest for baseball's all-time home-run record. Bonds is already being followed around this spring by his own videographer.

"I don't believe it will affect this veteran team," Alou said. "The main guy is Barry and if he does his thing with the bat and is not affected by it, I don't think we'll be."

Bonds played only 14 games last season as the knee injuries kept him out of the lineup until September. He has 708 career home runs, seven shy of passing Babe Ruth for second place and 48 away from breaking Hank Aaron's record.