Bonds tries out third spot in order
Slugger goes 2-for-3 as DH despite fighting bronchitis
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Don't look now, but that's Barry Bonds batting in the third spot for the Giants and it may remain that way for the foreseeable future.The left-handed-hitting slugger peeled himself out of a sick bed Tuesday at Scottsdale Stadium. And courtesy of an agreement with Angels manager Mike Scioscia, he was inserted as the designated hitter behind Fred Lewis and Omar Vizquel during a Cactus League game in a National League ballpark. "I'm going to do this in Spring Training and see how it goes," said Bonds, who, still suffering from his bout with bronchitis, went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs, legging out an infield hit and double in the process as the Giants won, 8-4. "It just depends on how things work out." Bonds is scheduled to DH again Wednesday in Peoria against the Mariners on the road in an American League yard, which is the custom. Nearing 43, he's resisted the suggestion in the recent past from former manager Felipe Alou of moving out of his accustomed cleanup spot one slot up in the batting order. But this is a new manager and a new day. Bruce Bochy, who just took over the Giants this spring, said in the fresh bloom of camp that he would consider speaking to Bonds about the change. Tuesday was evidently that day. "It's something I'm going to do for a while here this spring and take a look at it," Bochy said afterward. "I talked to Barry and told him what I wanted to do. Who knows? I may change my mind toward the end of the spring, but now I'm going to have him in the three-hole." Bonds has been almost exclusively the No. 4 hitter since midway through the 2002 NL pennant-winning season when then-manager Dusty Baker flip-flopped him with Jeff Kent. Prior to that, he was the team's No. 3 hitter for the better part of the previous seven seasons, including 2001 when he set the single-season record of 73 homers. Bonds came up as a leadoff hitter with the Pirates, but during the heyday of his Pittsburgh tenure hit fifth behind Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla. He's always been comfortable with whatever works, said Bonds, who goes into the season with 734 homers, 21 behind Hank Aaron's all-time Major League-record 755. "This year we've got a legitimate leadoff hitter in Dave Roberts," Bonds said. "If he can get on base, Dave's stealing. That's the key. We've got a leadoff hitter who can steal bases. It puts pressure on them with me coming up to hit. Before, they could just walk me with [two out and] a runner on second base. I like these options better." Roberts, who signed as a free agent this offseason, stole 49 bases for the Padres last year and gives the Giants a threat at the top of the lineup they haven't had since Kenny Lofton stole seven bases in 46 games after he was obtained from the White Sox during that championship season. Moving Bonds up a slot may give him more run-producing plate appearances while lessening the impact of opposing teams adding to his already record 645 intentional walks.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.