Bonds exhilarated, tired after opener

Bonds gets warm reception at home

SAN FRANCISCO -- The crowd of 42,795 at AT&T Park on Thursday stood as one. It was Opening Day, and when No. 25 was introduced during the pregame ceremonies, all the taunting on the road the last few days dissolved into 42 seconds of sustained hometown cheers.

"It was heartwarming, wonderful," San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds told MLB.com during a telephone conversation after leaving the clubhouse with a 6-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves in the bag. "It's our crowd. It's our town. These are our people. It made me feel great."

Bonds tipped his cap, not once, but twice as the sellout throng gave him a prolonged standing ovation. He waved with both arms, one at a time, to the fans behind the Giants dugout on the third-base side of the six-year-old ballpark nestled on McCovey Cove. He then turned and waved to the fans on the first-base side.

Bonds drank it all in, savoring what could be the final home opener of his illustrious, but highly controversial 21-year career. He had hoped for good weather and was given a beauty of a day. The rains that have ceaselessly pelted Northern California gave way to sunshine and blue skies. The game-time temperature hovered at 60 degrees.

Bonds said he felt so good physically, he expects to be back in the lineup on Friday night when the Giants take on the Braves in the second game of the four-game series.

But before Thursday's tilt, Bonds told several reporters that he was too tired to grant any interviews. A brief discussion ensued during which Bonds told a national reporter from an eastern newspaper "not to take it personally." They calmly agreed to disagree.

"I'm brain dead," Bonds said, citing fatigue from the short turnaround after Wednesday night's 3-1 win in San Diego.

The Giants flew home, arrived at nearly 2 a.m., and Bonds was at the ballpark only eight hours later.

Bonds went 0-for-2 and was walked twice intentionally. He played all nine innings again and whiffed to lead off the seventh against 31-year-old rookie Ken Ray. Bonds hasn't had a hit since he doubled off San Diego's Jake Peavy on the first pitch he faced at the outset of Monday night's season-opening 6-1 loss to the Padres at PETCO Park.

He hasn't driven in a run yet, nor has he come close to adding to his career total of 708 home runs, which is six behind Babe Ruth's 714 and 47 behind Hank Aaron's all-time record total of 755. But he has been on base six of the 12 times he's come to the plate and scored three times. Overall, he's 1-for-7.

After the game, about 50 media members gathered at his locker, but Bonds asked one of the club's public relations representatives to advise that he wasn't going to talk to the group, which then dispersed throughout the clubhouse. He went to ice his thrice surgically repaired right knee and when he returned, the group closed in again.

Bonds remained quiet and resolute. The scene was repeated at least twice before Bonds left the stadium with his son, Nikolai, to join the rest of his family.

"This is crazy," explained Bonds, who has amply shared his time with the media since the start of Spring Training. "I didn't do anything in the game. I can't do this every day. I'm not made like that. I have to take some quiet time. I have to concentrate, focus on what my job is on the field. I can't even go over to my locker and undress without people following me. I can't even get dressed without people following me. Like I said, this is crazy, man."

Bonds added that considering the turnaround the team had played well, but he was concerned about the health of starter Noah Lowry, the young Giants left-hander who had to leave the game in the second inning because of a muscle strain in his right lower back.

The Giants said that Lowry will be re-evaluated on Friday.

"That's my main concern right now," Bonds said. "I'm just hoping that Noah Lowry isn't hurt that badly. Otherwise, the main thing is that we won. Now let's have an early night, get some sleep, and come back tomorrow well rested."

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.