Bonds is scheduled to DH again Wednesday in Peoria against the Mariners on the road in an American League yard, which is the custom. Nearing 43, he's resisted the suggestion in the recent past from former manager Felipe Alou of moving out of his accustomed cleanup spot one slot up in the batting order. But this is a new manager and a new day.
Bruce Bochy, who just took over the Giants this spring, said in the fresh bloom of camp that he would consider speaking to Bonds about the change. Tuesday was evidently that day.
"It's something I'm going to do for a while here this spring and take a look at it," Bochy said afterward. "I talked to Barry and told him what I wanted to do. Who knows? I may change my mind toward the end of the spring, but now I'm going to have him in the three-hole."
Bonds has been almost exclusively the No. 4 hitter since midway through the 2002 NL pennant-winning season when then-manager Dusty Baker flip-flopped him with Jeff Kent. Prior to that, he was the team's No. 3 hitter for the better part of the previous seven seasons, including 2001 when he set the single-season record of 73 homers. Bonds came up as a leadoff hitter with the Pirates, but during the heyday of his Pittsburgh tenure hit fifth behind Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla.
He's always been comfortable with whatever works, said Bonds, who goes into the season with 734 homers, 21 behind Hank Aaron's all-time Major League-record 755.
"This year we've got a legitimate leadoff hitter in Dave Roberts," Bonds said. "If he can get on base, Dave's stealing. That's the key. We've got a leadoff hitter who can steal bases. It puts pressure on them with me coming up to hit. Before, they could just walk me with [two out and] a runner on second base. I like these options better."
Roberts, who signed as a free agent this offseason, stole 49 bases for the Padres last year and gives the Giants a threat at the top of the lineup they haven't had since Kenny Lofton stole seven bases in 46 games after he was obtained from the White Sox during that championship season.
Moving Bonds up a slot may give him more run-producing plate appearances while lessening the impact of opposing teams adding to his already record 645 intentional walks.
"You get him definitely in the first inning," Bochy said about the lineup shift. "You may get him an extra at-bat later in the game. But also you can get him off his legs a little bit. That may save 40 or 50 innings. He hits in the eighth and I can throw somebody out there. You're moving a great hitter up one spot. That's what you're doing."
Bonds showed Tuesday that he is more than ambulatory for the first time since a trio of surgeries on his right knee wiped him out of all except 14 games of the 2005 season. With the Angels shifting their infielders to the right in the third inning, he sped down the line after shortstop Erick Aybar dove and nearly stole what would have normally been a clean single up the middle, barely beating the wide throw.
In the sixth, Bonds lined a shot into left-center that deflected off the glove of left fielder Nick Gorneault. Instead of playing it safe, Bonds took the extra base, short-sliding the bag at the last moment because "I got dizzy and lost sight of the ball," Bonds said.
Case in point for Bochy, Bonds was immediately replaced by a pinch-runner and through six innings had already taken four shots at the plate. It was enough. Coughing up a storm, he doubled over as he approached the dugout and was still hacking as he sat in front of his locker casually talking with a handful of reporters.
"Oh, I was hurting," Bonds said about that last 180-foot scamper.
Bonds wasn't even supposed to play Tuesday. He started his first game of the spring Friday already beset by the lingering illness, starting in left field and batting fourth. After that, he spent Saturday and Sunday in bed and hauled himself out to the ballpark Monday to take batting practice.
Even after the game, he wasn't feeling great.
"No, not at all," Bonds said. "I was OK to go out there in this situation and DH. I'm behind a little bit because I've been sick. I just wanted to see pitches. I wasn't going to swing, really. But it's hard not to when you're out there. I was fighting it. It was fun. I was breathing hard."
Perhaps breathing easier, Bonds is in the three-hole. At least for now.