"I expect him to be here by reporting day," Sabean said after pitchers and catchers arrived at Scottsdale Stadium.
Asked for more details, Sabean demurred. "That's all I'm prepared to say at this point," he said. "One question, one answer."
A Giants spokesman, though, emphatically said that Bonds has not signed the one-year, $15.8 million contract that has been in question for more than two months. Bonds also still hasn't been formally placed on the team's 40-man roster.
Bonds, 42, goes into the season with 734 home runs, 21 behind Hank Aaron, MLB's all-time leader at 755.
By rules of the Basic Agreement, no player has to appear prior to March 1, but rarely does a player avail himself of that date.
The Giants open their Cactus League schedule March 1 against the Cubs in nearby Mesa.
Bonds has been working out and taking regular batting practice near his home in the Los Angeles area. He said recently that he is in "great shape" and that he is fully recovered from surgery on his left elbow that was performed after the close of last season and the three surgeries on his right knee that restricted him to only 14 games in 2005.
Last year, he played in 130 games, tied for the club lead with 26 homers, led the National League with 115 walks and the Major Leagues with a .454 on-base percentage.
The early reporting dates are purely voluntary and are never challenged by the Players Association. Still, a player wouldn't be considered "late" under terms of the Basic Agreement unless he fails to arrive -- without permission -- by March 1.
Borris and Sabean wouldn't comment about the state of Bonds' contract. Borris wouldn't stipulate whether he was pegging Bonds' arrival to the Giants reporting date or the mandatory reporting date.
"That's up to interpretation," he said.
Apparently anticipating Bonds' imminent arrival, the Giants gave him his usual locker in the far right corner of the clubhouse replete with his name plate above it. One empty stall over is his new teammate, Barry Zito, the left-handed free-agent pitcher who signed a seven-year, $126 million deal this past offseason. Zito is also expected to share the near side of the clubhouse with Bonds this season at AT&T Park.
Asked about the pairing of the two high-profile Barrys, Sabean said:
"It's my understanding that [Zito] requested it."
Bonds signed his contract last month, but the deal, which includes an additional $4.2 million in reachable incentives, was rejected two days later by Major League Baseball.
The dispute revolved around a personal-provisions clause the Giants added to the contract, which is in direct contradiction to language already in the new Basic Agreement signed by the Players Association and owners last year.
The issue of extra player appearances was resolved last year in collective bargaining and none, aside from those stipulated in the Basic Agreement, are allowed in an individual player's contract.
The Giants have since altered the clause and sent the new language to Borris for Bonds to ratify. But the deal with the new provision has remained unsigned for the past two weeks.
Despite disagreements regarding other clauses in the contract, including whether the deal would be terminated if Bonds is indicted on perjury charges stemming from an ongoing federal investigation into his alleged steroid use, the appearance provision is the only reason why MLB rejected the original contract.
Bonds and the Giants came to an agreement on all financial terms Dec. 7, but squabbled about contract language until Bonds traveled to San Francisco and signed the deal Jan. 29 after passing the requisite physical.