Bonds won’t participate in Home Run Derby

By Janie McCauley

CINCINNATI – Barry Bonds will sit out of the Home Run Derby on Monday night, opting to rest his tired body before Tuesday night’s All-Star game.

“Nope,” Bonds said Thursday when asked about the Derby. “Especially when you’re 42. It’s not that you don’t want to, it’s that you just can’t anymore. You can’t. It’s too long. Too much waiting. Too much sitting around. You can’t do that.”

Bonds, who turns 43 on July 24, was set to start in Thursday night’s series finale against the Cincinnati Reds after playing in 74 of his team’s first 82 games. He sat out Wednesday afternoon to allow his sore legs to recover and said he “felt better” Thursday.

Bonds had plenty of support in his choice to skip the Home Run Derby.

“I don’t blame him,” said American League manager Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers, Bonds’ first skipper in Pittsburgh. “It’s tiresome. His legs probably wouldn’t take it, taking that many swings in a row.”

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Bonds is slated to start in left field for the National League in the All-Star game July 10 in San Francisco, his 14th All-Star selection and 12th as a starter. He made up more than 119,000 votes in the final days – getting 1,111,968 additional votes – to finish with 2,325,391 and ahead of Cubs star Alfonso Soriano.

The seven-time NL MVP has appeared in six home run contests, winning it in 1996 in Philadelphia. The Derby has since gone from two rounds to three. He said he was worn out after the ’96 Derby as well.

“And it was only two rounds then,” Bonds said.

Who’s his favorite to win it now?

“You don’t know in our ballpark,” he said. “It depends on the wind.”

Bonds will be busy Monday night anyway, at a party he’s throwing along with hip-hop artist Jay-Z. Bonds said there’s no last-minute work to be done on that front.

“My party’s been planned,” he said. “I’m just having fun. It’s in San Francisco. It’s something I’ll remember forever. I’ll have a party with whoever I can have a party with. I will be thankful I got to be in the All-Star game in San Francisco.”

Yet the site of the game has also left him in a thick Bay Area fog – how can he possibly handle all the ticket requests?

“That’s hard enough as it is,” he said of the tickets, before noting that he needs “none – I’ve got enough.”

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he wouldn’t have minded if Bonds decided to participate in the Derby.

“Either way was fine with me,” Bochy said. “That was Barry’s decision. He’s doing what he thinks is the right thing to do. He could use the rest.”

Bonds said he could play all three games of a weekend series in St. Louis, which features night games Friday and Saturday and an afternoon contest Sunday – the Giants’ final three games before the break. If he does sit one out, Sunday would likely be the day.

Bonds will have one of his trainers, Greg Oliver, in St. Louis with him to help him ice down before games, loosen up and lead his personal workouts. When Oliver is on the road, Bonds typically lifts weights each morning. He only did so once in Cincinnati, reporting back to his “boys,” as he calls them, that he was “getting lazy.”

Oliver and Harvey Shields are no longer allowed in the clubhouse or restricted areas of the ballpark, per language in Bonds’ $15.8 million, one-year contract this season. That means they’re on his dime.

“Whichever trips I feel like paying,” Bonds said with a grin.

After about 45 minutes of casually chatting with a handful of media members Thursday, Bonds said he was exhausted.

“My back’s stiff now. My brain cells are gone. I need to put more amino acids in there,” he said.