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Notes: Bonds slugs first homer of spring

Notes: Bonds slugs his first homer of spring

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It took Barry Bonds all of 10 plate appearances to launch his first homer of the spring into the far reaches of Scottsdale Stadium.

The line shot to right field came on the third offering from A's right-hander Esteban Loaiza to open the fourth inning.

"I hit it pretty good," said Bonds, who started in left field on Friday and left the game after that inning as the A's defeated the Giants, 5-3. "I never take Spring Training very seriously, anyway."

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Bonds may not be taking Spring Training seriously, but those observing him are. After going 1-for-2 on the afternoon, Bonds is now 4-for-9 (.444) on the spring with a pair of doubles and three RBIs. The two doubles were legged out. And at 42, having recovered from a trio of 2005 knee surgeries, Bonds is running with his old speed and self-assuredness.

"I feel great," Bonds said. "My knee feels great. I'm getting it all going."

Bruce Bochy, who has taken the brunt of Bonds' wrath at the plate as manager of the Padres, said he marvels at the shape Bonds is in right now. Bochy said Bonds would get three plate appearances each on Saturday and Sunday as the designated hitter against Texas and Seattle, respectively, at Scottsdale Stadium.

"We want to just keep him going," said Bochy, the new Giants manager. "There will be plenty of time later in the spring to get him the work he needs in left field."

The week began with Bonds climbing out of a sick bed to take batting practice at the ballpark on Monday. That day, he received an antibiotic shot to help ward off the continued symptoms of his bronchial condition. He then had six plate appearances the next two days as the designated hitter. After an off day on Thursday, Bochy saw fit to put Bonds back in the outfield for the second time this spring.

Bonds said his decision to play through the illness was a good one.

"It was a smart move for me to play," Bonds said. "I had to push myself, but it was the right thing. I had to get out of bed, get out of the house. Ray [Durham] did it, too."

Benitez takes liner off knee: There was a downside to the three-inning appearance Armando Benitez had on Thursday in a Minor League camp game. The right-handed closer said he took a line drive off the right knee, the same one that was so bothersome last year. It shut down his 2006 season in early September.

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"Can you believe the luck?" Benitez said on Friday. "It was the third batter. I'm glad I have a brace on it and it didn't hit right off the bone."

Benitez said he'll probably take it easy for a couple of days, although Bochy revealed after the game that the reliever's initial test in a Cactus League game is still scheduled for Sunday when the Giants play split-squad games against the Mariners in Scottsdale and the A's in Phoenix.

Ortiz has good first start: The salvaging of Russ Ortiz's career took another step forward on Friday as he made his first start of the spring and threw three innings of scoreless ball, allowing four hits, walking none and striking out one. Ortiz was also aided by ground double plays after base hits in both the first and second innings.

It's a different kind of spring for Ortiz, the former Giants ace, who is now projected as the top candidate for the fifth starter's slot.

"I've got to get results," said Ortiz, who was released last June 13 by the Diamondbacks midway through the second year of a four-year, $33 million contract. "This is the first time I've had to do that. Before, you like to get results, but I've usually tried to get ready for the season. This is the first time I've had to come right in on Day 1 and get results. That's OK. It adds some more excitement because I need to produce just like I do during the season."

If Ortiz succeeds, the irony of it is that the Diamondbacks, a National League West rival, will be paying Ortiz almost the full freight of the contract, while the Giants pay the minimum.

Bochy said he's pleasantly surprised with Ortiz, who has a 2.16 ERA for his three appearances. And although he isn't ceding him that No. 5 slot as of yet, he indicated that continued good work would give Ortiz the inside track.

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

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