Bonds homers, considers elbow surgery

Bonds clubs No. 732

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thinking ahead to a possible return for his 22nd season, Giants slugger Barry Bonds told MLB.com on Wednesday night that he's considering having the bone chips removed from his problematic left elbow as soon as this season ends if, as expected, he decides to return next year.

Bonds, who said earlier in the season that he would retire if he had to undergo any more surgery on his 42-year-old body, said he's changed his opinion because the arthroscopic procedure would be quick and unobtrusive. Bonds, whose ninth-inning homer went for naught in a 9-8 loss to the Rockies at AT&T Park, now has 24 on the season and 732 in his career -- one homer behind Hank Aaron's National League record of 733 and 23 shy of the Hammer's all-time mark of 755.

"I'm probably going to get it done just for the purpose of taking care of it," said Bonds, who added a two-run double, giving him three RBIs on the night and 67 on the season. "I've talked to the [Giants] trainers and they said I really need to get it done. If I come back in the National League, I'm going to have to play the field and deal with that situation.

"I'd get it done right away and then go from there. It's just a cleanup. It's not major surgery. I've already taken an MRI. They know where the chips are. They said I'd be back to normal in two weeks."

Bonds incurred the elbow injury swinging in the batting cage on the field at Scottsdale Stadium near the end of Spring Training, and it has been a recurring problem all season. When Bonds revealed in late April that bone chips were the reason for the persistent swelling, he was still in the throes of recovery from the three surgeries on his right knee that relegated him to only 14 games and five home runs during the 2005 season. And he couldn't fathom undergoing the scope again.

Now, Bonds said he feels like his knee is almost back to normal, and looking ahead to life even after baseball, he'd like his elbow to be back to normal, too.

"But I wouldn't do it right away if I don't play," Bonds said. "I can deal with it for a while. It doesn't hurt when I'm not playing. It only swells up and hurts me when I'm playing."

Bonds can become a free agent again at the end of the postseason, and his future is very much still in question. The Giants haven't said yet whether they'd re-sign him, but club officials note now that Bonds has certainly made a good case for himself during the past six weeks.

Bonds batted .333 for the month of August and has had 10 homers and 22 RBIs from Aug. 1 through Wednesday night's game as the milestones just keep piling up.

His leadoff shot off closer Brian Fuentes was the 53rd ninth-inning homer of his career.

His 24 homers are the most in a single season for a 42-year-old. In comparison, at 42, Aaron had 10; Willie Mays, Bonds' godfather, hit six; and Ruth, whom Bonds passed on May 28 and now is third on the all-time list with 714 homers, had been out of the game for more than two years.

His double was the 584th of his career, moving him alone into 15th on the all-time list. He is second behind Houston's Craig Biggio (636) among active players in that category.

to the babe and beyond

Bonds said he credits the resurgence this season to his newly found mobility. He's running much better and able to stay back on pitches.

"Earlier in the season, I was swinging with one leg and one arm," Bonds said. "My elbow was so bad at one point, I remember telling the hitting coach [Joe Lefebvre] I was going to let it rip on this one at-bat. We were in San Diego [on Aug. 16]. I hit a home run and my elbow blew out."

Bonds had to come out of the game that night, but he's been relatively healthy ever since. Wednesday night was his 118th game, the fifth highest on the team, with only 17 more to go. He figures to play the majority of them. If so, he'll far outpace general manager Brian Sabean's preseason projection of 120 games, tops.

Bonds continues to beat back the odds, saying he continues to work at it and has altered his training program accordingly.

"I do leg exercises all the time," Bonds said. "The problem was, they were making my knee blow up. Now, I do light leg exercises. I can do those now and quickly recover. Before, I'd do my leg presses and my squats and my knee would be done for two days and I couldn't get it back. Now I've modified the training so I can get the same results, but still feel like I have my legs underneath me."

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.