Teammates see relief in Bonds
Giants look forward to record-breaker possibly coming at home
SAN DIEGO -- The first hint that this would be a singular Saturday for Barry Bonds came in the hours before the Giants began their game Saturday night against the San Diego Padres.Noticing Bonds' demeanor once he re-entered the clubhouse after his half-hour session of extra batting practice, center fielder Dave Roberts sensed that his teammate was poised for greatness. "He was definitely focused today and really quiet," Roberts said. "We kind of leave him alone when he's in that kind of mood. You kind of had a feeling that something special was going to happen." What happened was Bonds' 755th career home run, which christened the second inning of the Giants' 3-2, 12-inning loss to San Diego. It tied Hank Aaron's all-time mark, whetting anticipation that Bonds can break the record during the Giants' seven-game homestand that begins Monday at AT&T Park. Bonds is not expected to play in Sunday's series finale against the Padres. "I think obviously he wants to do it in front of the home fans. That makes it that more special to him," first baseman-outfielder Mark Sweeney said. "Because they've been great to him and he's been great to the fans." "To do it at home will be great," said infielder Rich Aurilia, who, during his previous stint with the Giants (1995-2003), watched Bonds hit several milestone homers in San Francisco. "It'll be a special moment for him, the fans and the city -- a great, great experience." Roberts imagined that after Bonds connected so early in Saturday's game, Giants fans in the Bay Area "were holding their breath the last few at-bats that he had, hoping that the pinnacle wouldn't be at somebody else's ballpark." Sure enough, Bonds walked in his final three plate appearances. "Hopefully there's a storybook ending, that he breaks it at home," Roberts said. The Giants' joy was almost palpable as they poured from the dugout to greet Bonds once he crossed home plate. "I've known him for a long time. When I started playing with him, this wasn't something I envisioned him getting to," Aurilia said. "But this is a great accomplishment. Everybody's happy for him, especially guys who have been here for a while who know what he's gone through." Bonds had gone six games without a homer, causing teammates to wonder when the next one would come. "It's kind of cool. It's very cool, actually," Roberts said. "There's so much anticipation and you don't know when it's going to happen, but when it does happen, it's like, wow." Sweeney, who ordered specially engraved champagne glasses for teammates to commemorate the occasion when Bonds hit his 715th home run to pass Babe Ruth last season, appreciated the enormity of the evvent. "Ten, 15 years from now, we're going to say that this was a great moment," he said. "I think we're going to look back on it and say thank God we were here and witnessed it." Bonds' teammates also felt glad that the stress of trying to break Aaron's record is near an end. "I think a big weight was lifted off Barry's shoulders," Roberts said. "I saw him in [the clubhouse] afterward. It seemed like he was more relaxed than he's been for a while," Aurilia said. "It's something that none of us will ever experience, that pressure. He seemed kind of at peace with it." Another lingering impression from the evening was the gracious reaction of the San Diego fans. After showering Bonds with the booing he receives everywhere on the road, most of the sellout crowd of 42,831 at PETCO Park responded to No. 755 with a minute-long ovation, temporarily putting aside the left fielder's involvement in baseball's performance-enhancing drug controversy that has made him widely unpopular. "The way the fans embraced this moment makes me very happy to know I'm from San Diego," Roberts said. "They did baseball fans all over the country a great service by their response." "It's nice to see that the fans reacted with a lot of class," Aurilia said. "I think it showed the respect that they have for the game and its milestones."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.