Bonds: Passing Aaron not likely

Bonds: Record not likely

DENVER -- That first homer of the season is out of the way, but even if only a few more are to come, Barry Bonds is satisfied. And for the first time this weekend, the Giants slugger admitted that Hank Aaron's all-time mark of 755 home runs may very well be out of reach.

"I'm happy with what I've already done," Bonds said in a wide-ranging interview with that encompassed his hitting problems over the first three weeks of his 21st season. "If I get it, I get it; if I don't, so be it. That's life, baby. That's life. It was fun while it lasted."

The effects of playing on a right knee surgically repaired three times last year, plus the added annoyance of a left elbow that is puffed up because of bone chips is making a shot at the Hammer more remote, Bonds said.

"Heck no," Bonds said when asked if he still had a chance to catch Aaron. "Maybe something would happen during the winter time. My knee could get better. Maybe there will be some kind of solution they can come up with that would make the pain go away. Who knows? There are all kinds of reasons. When you get older, these kinds of things happen. But that's baseball."

Bonds pinch-hit and struck out to close the ninth inning of Sunday's 3-2, 10-inning Giants loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. That whiff came a day after he hit his 709th homer in his 14th game, 31st at-bat and 52nd plate appearance of the young season. At third on the all-time list, he's now five behind Babe Ruth's 714 and 46 behind Aaron.

For the last week, Bonds had been trying to play through increasing pain in the knee, which limited him to just 14 games last season. After missing five months and taking two weeks of batting practice, Bonds surprised everyone when he returned on Sept. 12 and hit five homers in his first 36 at-bats. The difference between now and then is simple, Bonds said.

"Last year when I came back, there were only a few weeks left and I gave it everything I had because it was just a short time," said Bonds, who missed the final four games of the season after the Giants were eliminated from contention in the National League West by the division-winning Padres. "When the year was over, I was done. I couldn't have played another game. If we had made the playoffs, I wouldn't have been able to play.

"It took awhile after the season was over to recover. All I could do for three weeks was sit in a pool. There was a point there when I thought I was finished -- that I wouldn't be able to play again. I was in rehab for a long time. This year I committed to these guys for the entire season. I have to pace myself. It's an entirely different thing."

to the babe and beyond

Bonds said his knee has remained steadily swollen for about a week and only a short break might be the elixir to bring it back to normal. But Bonds said he has no intention of shutting it down for a while after he passes Ruth and goes into second on the all-time list.

"If I took off for five days, the swelling would be gone," Bonds said. "But I don't have five days. I'm not taking five days off. I'm going to keep playing. I'm playing all year no matter what. Why would Ruth matter? This is a team. I'm trying to win a championship here. Ruth doesn't have anything to do with my championship. He won some. Let me have some.

"The thing is, I'm not trying to pass Ruth because Ruth doesn't have the record. Hank Aaron has the record. Going past Ruth would be just like going past Mike Schmidt or anyone else in baseball. Right? The record is Hank Aaron's. The topic is Babe Ruth."

The topic is also Bonds' slow start. He has two RBIs, the one homer and three doubles in 57 plate appearances, 20 of them walks. Including Sunday's whiff and because the official scorer changed a call from Saturday night and credited Bonds with a base hit on his sixth-inning grounder back to the pitcher that originally was called an error, Bonds is now batting .200 (8-for-35) with a .509 on-base percentage.

Still, Bonds said he's all upper body now, and because of changes in his training techniques, he's getting no power out of his legs.

"When you get older, you've got to hang in there and keep working out," said Bonds, who will turn 42 on July 24. "I haven't been able to do that up to my magnitude for over a year now. Running up and down hills, I can't do that. I can't leg press over 150 pounds because of my knee. So my whole body has gone in a different direction.

"My upper body is outdoing my lower body. My lower body, there's nothing there. When you're older and that happens, it's twice as hard to get it back. So I'm frustrated. I'm fighting to get the strength back at the same time I'm fighting to stay in shape. But I can't run. How do you do it?"

It's why Bonds sounded almost philosophical about his current plight. He fully recognizes there is an end to his career in sight -- whether it's at the end of this season, next year or next week.

"So be it," he said. "I'm proud of what I've done. If I finish with 709, so what? That's why I love Willie Mays, my godfather, and Willie McCovey. I respect them so much because they're happy with what they've done. And they support the players who are coming. And if somebody comes up to match what I've done, I'm going to support him, too. I'm not ashamed of what I've done. I'm pleased. If that's it, that's it. So what? I'm not going to give up, but that's for my own peace of mind.

"I want to be the type of player my godfather was toward me and my dad was toward me. Like Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt and some of those other Hall of Famers that were there for me, I want to be there for the next generation. I want to sit there and say, 'Hey, dude, you passed me.' I will be in the front row. I will be there."

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