Giants put no odds on Bonds' comeback

By Times wire
Published August 23, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO - Giants general manager Brian Sabean refuses to think too much about having Barry Bonds back in the lineup this season.

The slugger's status is still so uncertain.

"It's wait and see," Sabean said Monday. "He's been through a lot, and he will continue to be through a lot until he's back in uniform on a daily basis."

If Bonds does play this season after three operations on his troublesome right knee since Jan.31, Sabean isn't sure there will be enough games left for him to make a major impact, or whether he'd be able to play every day.

Bonds has been sprinting and cutting since Wednesday, working out at the UCLA track under the direction of renowned Angels orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum and physical therapist Clive Brewster .

The All-Star leftfielder and seven-time NL MVP still hasn't resumed baseball activities. Sabean said Bonds could rejoin the Giants once he has done everything in his rehabilitation in Los Angeles, though the GM didn't offer a timetable and added, "don't misconstrue that as jumping on the baseball field."

Sabean receives daily e-mail updates on Bonds and speaks to Yocum or Brewster every couple of days.

"Spring training was a long time ago," Sabean said. "He could be starting from ground zero as far as the baseball activities."

Bonds, who turned 41 last month, has 703 home runs, third on the career list behind Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755). Carlton Fisk 's 53 homers are the most any player has hit after turning 41, exactly the number Bonds needs to break Aaron's record.

PIRATES PONDER DUKE'S FUTURE: No Pirates starting pitcher has opened his rookie season the way Zach Duke has. The question now is what kind of finish he will have.

The left-hander takes a 6-0 record and 1.87 ERA into his 10th start tonight, when he faces the Cardinals. But whether Duke will keep pitching past then, and for how long, is a question the Pirates have not answered. He has pitched a professional career-high 1652/3 innings with Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis, and management doesn't want to risk an arm injury.

General manager Dave Littlefield and manager Lloyd McClendon plan to evaluate Duke's status after tonight.

If Duke wins, he would match Pirates right-hander Don Robinson 's 7-0 record as a rookie in 1978, when he finished 14-6. Robinson made three appearances as a reliever that season.

"From a physical standpoint, he looks to be okay, but you can't deny that he's going into uncharted territory," McClendon said. "It's an extra four-five starts, so we've got to monitor it carefully. And, regardless of what we come up with, it's going to be an ongoing evaluation of how he's doing from one start to the next."

BRAVES: Catcher Johnny Estrada was activated from the 15-day disabled list and in the lineup. Estrada missed 14 games with a lumbar and cervical strain.

CARDINALS: Reliever Mike Lincoln had surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right (pitching) elbow, an injury that occurred last month during his rehabilitation.

DODGERS: Left-hander Odalis Perez went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Thursday with a strained muscle on his right side.

ORIOLES: Baltimore reacquired right-hander James Baldwin , claiming him off waivers from the Rangers. Baldwin excelled in long relief for Baltimore before being designated for assignment July 18 while the team was negotiating to acquire right-hander A.J. Burnett from the Marlins, a deal that fell through.

YANKEES: Shortstop Derek Jeter was out of the starting lineup because of a slightly jammed right thumb.