Bonds clarifies retirement talk

Retirement talk clarified

A day after telling USA Today that he intended to retire after the 2006 season, Barry Bonds on Sunday qualified his remarks and said if he's able to play in 2007, he'll be back for another season.

"If my knee holds up, I'll keep on going," Bonds told in a telephone interview. "I'm playing psychological games with myself right now. I don't want to set myself up for disappointment if things don't work out this season. So I go back and forth. Back and forth every day. These are the things that are going through my mind. This is what I'm struggling with."

As Bonds enters this season, the spotlight will be on his pursuit of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list. Bonds has 708 home runs, six behind Ruth's 714 and 47 behind Aaron's leading 755. A secondary storyline, though, has been, and will continue to be, the health of Bonds' surgically repaired right knee.

Bonds was quoted on USA Today's Web site as saying: "I'm not playing baseball anymore after this. The game [isn't] fun anymore. I'm tired of all of the [stuff] going on. I want to play this year out, hopefully win, and once the season is over, go home and be with my family. Maybe then everybody can just forget about me."

Bonds said he has been fitted with a knee brace to protect knee and is beginning to feel secure as the Giants prepare for the 2006 season.

"The brace feels great, it's awesome," said Bonds, who will turn 42 on July 24. "Right now, I feel like I can play for another five years, another 10 years. It's given me a new lease on life. That's how I'm feeling today. I'm ready to get going."

Bonds said he expects to report to Giants camp this week in Scottsdale, Ariz., saying he had some personal business to attend to. Position players are supposed to report Monday and have their first full workouts Tuesday, but Bonds wasn't sure if he'd be in camp on time for that.

In various conversations during the past few weeks with, Bonds said he is considering retirement, but needs to have those conversations later in the season with the people closest to him. Bonds has one year remaining on his multiyear deal with the Giants worth $18 million and can become a free agent after the season.

"All I can say is that I have a contract for this year, so as far as I know, I'm committed through this year," Bonds said. "If my knee doesn't hold up, then it's over. But if it does, I'll keep going. No one can predict what's going to happen. Even I can't speculate until I get out there. I'm going to be 42 years old. I've got to be realistic. Since I don't have a contract for next year, then this could be my last year."

Bonds underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee three times this past year and played in only 14 games, all in September, as the Giants made a late and unsuccessful run at the Padres for the National League West title.

Bonds told weeks ago that the knee is his greatest concern about the future.

"I went to the Bahamas for a vacation and I was walking down the beach with my wife," he said. "I slipped in the sand and my knee swelled up for two days. That's the kind of thing I'm dealing with."

Bonds added that he had to change his rigorous training schedule this offseason, cutting down on his running and legwork. He said he spent another week in rehab earlier this month, but Giants general manager Brian Sabean noted last week that Bonds has been given full clearance by his physicians to play full time this season.

Though Bonds said near the end of this past season that he wanted to lose about 30 pounds to take pressure off his legs, in reality he said he'd lost only five pounds during the offseason.

"I'm a little leaner, but I can only do what I can do," he said.

Bonds missed the first five months of the 2005 season coping with the repeated surgeries and rehabilitation of his knee.

He rejoined the team at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 5 to resume batting practice and returned on Sept. 12 to hit five home runs in his first 36 at-bats. He finished 2005 with a .286 batting average (12-for-42), including a double, the five homers, eight runs scored, 10 runs batted in and nine walks, three of them intentional.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.