Bonds out of starting lineup for finale against Brewers

By Janie McCauley

MILWAUKEE – Barry Bonds’ pursuit of the home run record will resume back in San Francisco on Monday night.

Bonds has 753 home runs, two from tying Hank Aaron’s record, and will have the chance to make history back home in the Bay Area where he’s hit so many of his milestone home runs.

Bonds’ teammates are eager for him to break the record not only for the slugger’s sanity, but so everybody will have a semblance of normalcy again. The media horde was huge at Miller Park this weekend, and it will just get bigger back home.

“With the group of guys we have and guys who have been around, I don’t see it making a big change,” right fielder Randy Winn said of the added attention. “It’s always fun to play in that kind of atmosphere.”

Bonds was held out of the Giants’ 7-5 loss Sunday in the series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers, though manager Bruce Bochy almost used his slugger to pinch hit.

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Bonds started just three of seven games during San Francisco’s trip. Bonds went a 0-for-6 with three walks – one intentional – and two strikeouts in the first two games of the series in the city where Aaron started and finished his 23-year career.

Bonds, who turns 43 Tuesday, will likely play five or six games during San Francisco’s upcoming seven-game homestand – including Monday night’s series opener against the Atlanta Braves.

In his first season as San Francisco’s skipper after 12 years with the NL West rival Padres, Bochy spoke to Bonds in the batting cage this weekend and realized just how thrilling the record will be.

“Sometimes you have to remind yourself you’re standing by who is going to be the all-time home run leader,” Bochy said. “Sure, that is something you not only think about but appreciate. … It’s going to be pretty special when it happens. Barry should get the attention he’s getting.”

The Braves are another one of the Hammer’s former teams. The first three games with Atlanta are night games, followed by a 4 p.m. PDT start Thursday. Sunday’s finale with the Florida Marlins is the only early afternoon contest.

Bochy said at the beginning of this trip that he no longer planned to play Bonds in day games following night games, but the seven-time MVP appeared in the Giants’ victories both Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

“We’ll see how the games go,” Bochy said of the homestand. “I’ll give him a day, but I don’t know exactly when – if not more (than one day).”

Bochy knows he will disappoint the fans in the Giants’ waterfront ballpark when he does choose to sit Bonds, who hit two home runs Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on almost three full days’ rest.

The Giants certainly want Bonds to become the new home run king at home, where he is beloved in spite of the steroids suspicions that surround him.

“It’s hard to get more people in there than what we’ve had. They’ve been unbelievable as far as the support through our struggles,” Bochy said. “But I’m sure it’s going to create even more excitement. It’s hard to beat what we have at our ballpark. Now that Barry’s getting closer, you’ll sense the excitement.”

Bochy doesn’t want to think about the possibility Bonds’ chase might move into the club’s next road trip: to Los Angeles and San Diego starting July 31.

“Sure, we’d like for it to happen on this homestand,” Bochy said. “But we’re not going to change things if it doesn’t.”

If it happens at Dodger Stadium, at least one of Bonds’ teammates has set his sights on retrieving the ball.

“Maybe he’ll hit it in our bullpen and one of us will catch it,” reliever Steve Kline said.