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Notes: Bonds voices respect for Aaron

Notes: Bonds voices respect for Aaron

DENVER -- Barry Bonds refuses to be drawn into a controversy surrounding Hank Aaron -- the man whose home run record he is poised to surpass later this season.

The occasion to question Bonds again about Aaron's expected absence for the record-breaking moment arose Sunday. Aaron appeared at Major League Baseball's ceremony honoring Jackie Robinson before the Dodgers-Padres game at Dodger Stadium. But Bonds wasn't biting.

"I have the utmost respect for Hank Aaron," Bonds said. "He was a great player. It's a tragedy what the press is doing with this. I have nothing but love for Hank Aaron.

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"Hank Aaron is one of the guys at the forefront of history. So is Babe Ruth. We all respect and admire those guys. I'm not going to allow the press to [write] anything different out of my mouth. You're blowing it out of proportion."

Otherwise, Bonds was jovial and cordial in a 15-minute session before batting practice -- something he is doing regularly this season on the first day of a series. He says he has his health, and that's the most important thing at this point early in the season.

"The big thing for me is to start a season healthy," Bonds said. "I'm just trying to recapture the things I was able to do 2 1/2 years ago. I just feel better. I'm a lot quicker. I'm moving around a lot better."

He also reiterated a longer-term goal of reaching 3,000 hits -- which considering he entered Monday's game 151 hits shy, likely will mean playing in 2008.

"I'm inspired because Willie [Mays] challenged me," Bonds said. And then with a laugh, he added, "I'll have to bunt more, do some little things I normally don't do."

At least Bonds is getting more opportunities to swing the bat -- as opposed to the ultra-careful/intentional-walk strategy employed against him in the past.

"They've been pitching to him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "But we haven't been in a lot of situations where there was a question about pitching to him or not. We've been behind. I expected them to pitch to him, to see where he's at."

In the first three innings of Monday's game, the Rockies twice pitched to Bonds with a runner on second base and first base open. He grounded out and walked.

Lineup juggling: Even with the Rockies starting left-hander Jeff Francis, left-handed-hitting Dave Roberts remained in the leadoff spot, while switch-hitting Todd Linden got the call in right field and switch-hitting Randy Winn got the night off.

Bochy said the decision was two-fold -- to keep Roberts sharp, as he didn't start in the first game in Pittsburgh before the two rainouts, and part of the continuing effort to give Linden at-bats.

"He had a good winter and a solid spring," Bochy said about Linden. "He plays good defense, runs the bases well and is a big, strong guy. I'm sure he'd like to find out what he can do with more playing time. We'd like to see him get close to 400 at-bats, and keep the other [outfielders] fresh."

Makeup possibilities: In a lesser-of-two-evils situation, Aug. 13 is emerging as the likelier date for the Giants and Pirates to make up the two games that were rained out over the weekend at PNC Park.

The open date for both teams will follow their three-game series at AT&T Park, as both will be heading back east -- the Giants to Atlanta and the Pirates back home. One drawback for the Giants is playing on that date would require them to play on 31 consecutive days.

Another possibility is giving up a day of the All-Star break. But player rep Randy Winn said, "We would lose two days that way, one day to fly there and then Thursday to play the games. We play so many games and have so few off days that usually, the choices aren't great."

On the farm: Tim Lincecum, the Giants' top pick in the First-Year Player Draft last June, was named the Pacific Coast League's pitcher of the week after throwing 12 scoreless innings in two starts for Fresno. Lincecum, picked 10th overall, allowed only six hits while striking out 17 and holding opponents to a .146 batting average.

Quotable: "It's good if we win some games. If not, I may have to find another way home. Somebody may want to follow me." -- Bochy, on living within a few minutes' walk of AT&T Park in San Francisco

On deck: RHP Matt Cain (0-1, 2.77 ERA) will be matched up against another promising young right-hander, Jason Hirsh (1-1, 3.09), in a 5:35 p.m. PT start to conclude the short two-game series at Coors Field on Tuesday.

Tony DeMarco is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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