Bonds presents unique challenge
SAN DIEGO — The question of how to pitch to Barry Bonds will come up this week with the San Francisco Giants making their annual visit to PNC Park.
The Pirates didn’t have to worry about facing Bonds when they visited SBC Park in May. He didn’t play in the three-game series because of back spasms.
Bonds leads the National League with a .353 batting average. He also is among the leaders with 29 home runs, which has increased his career total to 687.
Against his former team, Bonds is a career .314 hitter with 18 homers and 48 RBI in 280 at-bats. Last year, Bonds was 4 for 9, but did not homer against the Pirates.
At PNC Park, he’s 11 for 22 with four homers and 10 RBI.
“I’ll treat him like I would treat any other marquee player that we identify as the guy we don’t want to beat us,” said manager Lloyd McClendon, a former Bonds teammate on the Pirates. “Barry is that guy. If there’s a chance he can beat us with the game on the line, he’s not going to hit. Other than that, we’ll pitch to him. We’ll be careful.”
This season, Bonds could break his record of 198 walks set two years ago. With one-third of the season remaining, he has walked 153 times, 57 more than runner-up Lance Berkman. Of those walks, 82 have been intentional. Jim Thome is second with 20 intentional walks.
The Pirates will start Josh Fogg, rookie Sean Burnett and Ryan Vogelsong against the Giants. Bonds is 2 for 3 against Fogg and has never faced the other two pitchers.
“He’s only one guy. You’ve got eight others to worry about,” Fogg said. “If you take care of the rest of the team, you can pitch him a little more carefully. The key is not to let him beat you with too many guys on base.”
Vogelsong said he will try to take advantage of his slot in the pecking order.
“I hope those guys show me how to get him out,” he said.
Didn’t Vogelsong pick up any pointers when he played with Bonds in the 2000-01 seasons?
“That doesn’t help at all,” he said. “I’ve seen him hit every pitch out of the park.”