Maddux would rather walk Bonds than serve up historic homer

By Bernie Wilson

SAN DIEGO – Greg Maddux would prefer to avoid becoming part of history.

Maddux is scheduled to start for the San Diego Padres on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants.

Bonds went into Thursday night’s game at Los Angeles with 754 homers, one short of tying Hank Aaron’s career record.

The San Francisco slugger has hit 86 homers against the Padres, his most against any team. His 42 homers in San Diego are his most in any road city.

Maddux, who pitched for Chicago and Atlanta before joining the Padres this season, leads a list of 444 pitchers to surrender a home run to Bonds, giving up eight along with Terry Mulholland, Chan Ho Park, Curt Schilling and John Smoltz.

    Subscribe to our sports newsletter!

    Then again, Maddux last served up a homer to Bonds on May 1, 1998, while he was pitching for Atlanta.

    And yes, it would bother Maddux if he were to give up the homer that allowed Bonds to tie or break the record, then have to watch the replays over and over.

    “Well, absolutely,” Maddux said after the Padres beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-0 on Thursday. “All the home runs I’ve given up have bothered me. You do what you can to pitch around him if you have to, and try to win.”

    While Bonds tore up Qualcomm Stadium, hitting 39 homers at the big concrete bowl in Mission Valley, he’s hit only three in 73 at-bats at Petco Park, which opened in 2004.

    The Padres knew early on that Petco was a pitcher’s park.

    “We made it Bonds-proof, remember?” Padres general manager Kevin Towers said just before the first opening day.

    Bonds quickly found out that Petco’s vast outfield was a place where long fly balls went to die. He took the Bonds-proof theory a step further by saying that the Padres had made Petco “baseball-proof.”

    While it’s an enticing 322 feet to the home-run porch down the right-field line, it’s 400 feet to the gap in right-center and 401 to the left-center alley. It’s 396 to straightaway center field.

    Bonds thinks the downtown ballpark’s just too darn big, period.

    “That’s just a shame. That place, they just need to move all of that in,” he said last month.

    Then again, there’s always the intentional walk.

    “It’s easy pitching to Barry because if it matters, you just walk him,” said Maddux, who has 340 career wins and won four straight Cy Young Awards in the 1990s. “I mean, it’s not that hard to throw four a couple feet outside. He’s a good player. He’s been the best for me, as far as sitting in the other dugout and watching somebody, for a long time.”

    Bonds made his big league debut in May 1986, and Maddux came up that September.

    Overall, Bonds is 34-for-127 against Maddux, with eight homers, 15 strikeouts and 23 walks, eight intentional.

    “I’d like to think that if I didn’t face him 150 times, maybe he’d already have the record,” Maddux cracked.

    “He’s good,” the pitcher added. “He’s always been the best player, even when he was in Pittsburgh. I know he taught me to beat lineups and not hitters. You do what you can to keep him in the park. No disrespect to the other eight guys, but you’ve got to make sure Barry doesn’t beat you.”

    The Padres said the games Friday and Saturday nights are sold out.

    Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Bonds likely will sit out Sunday afternoon’s game.

    As for Friday night’s matchup, “You’re seeing the best in the game going at it,” said Bochy, who was San Diego’s manager the previous 12 seasons. “Those are great matchups. The fans enjoy it. I enjoy it.”