Rays ponder Bonds pursuit

The club has talked about whether to make a pitch for the controversial slugger.

By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Published February 25, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG - There has been no formal offer, actual wooing or even public displays of affection. But the Rays seem to have at least an eye on Barry Bonds, and team officials have recently talked internally about the all-time home run king who has been at the center of the steroids controversy.

The Rays have weighed the merits of other remaining free agents, such as Mike Piazza and Kenny Lofton, and may not have decided whether to proceed on any of them. In Bonds' case, there would be a lot to think about in balancing what good he could do at the plate and the gate vs. the disruption he could cause in the clubhouse. (Unlike some teams, they also haven't said publicly they wouldn't consider Bonds, either.)

"Our policy is to not comment on any players outside the organization except to say generally that we're committed to improving our roster for 2008 and beyond," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.

Bonds, 43, is seeking a chance to play and, adding to the potential plot, his agent, Jeff Borris, is in Tampa this week. But he wouldn't say Sunday night if, or how much, the Rays were interested.

"I talk to Tampa Bay all the time for a variety of reasons," Borris said.

About Bonds?

"I won't comment on that one way or another. ... There's only so much I can say."

Will you meet with them while you're in the area? "I can't say."

More intrigue? Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg is due in town this week.

Bonds passed Hank Aaron last year to establish a homer record of 762 and is 65 hits shy of 3,000.

Borris said there are "no legal impediments" that would prevent Bonds from playing this season, though he was indicted and pleaded not guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice charges, which allege that he lied when he told a federal grand jury he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. He is asking a judge to dismiss the case.