MILWAUKEE -- He leads the Majors with a .459 on-base percentage, has hit .409 on the road trip with a homer and nine RBIs, is ripping the ball at a .434 clip with runners in scoring position. Oh yeah. He has 733 lifetime homers. You get no guesses on who this man is, and if you ask Giants manager Felipe Alou if Barry Bonds could return in 2007 and be even better than he is now, his answer is quick, decisive.
"Yes," Alou said Saturday at Miller Park. "If he's healthy like he is and if they fix that [left] elbow [Bonds is considering bone chip removal], he'll probably be a lot better." It took almost until mid-year before Bonds' bad knees allowed him to get a stable hitting base and regain health after three knee surgeries and a serious bacterial infection early in 2005. "There was inactivity because of losing a complete season -- he played only two weeks [last year] -- and it took him awhile to get back, even the great hitter he is," said Alou. "He didn't play that much in Spring Training and it took him awhile to be where he is." Early in the year, Bonds looked old, feeble and hurt. His arthritic knees would act up, his defense suffered and his timing at the plate was way off. Bonds batted .239 in May, .229 in June, .222 in July. But improved health helped rev his average to .333 in August and .327 so far in September. He tied Hank Aaron's National League homer mark with his 25th blast of the season Friday night here and is currently 8-for-16 over a five-game hitting streak. What has also helped is being surrounded by Shea Hillenbrand (batting third) and Ray Durham and Moises Alou behind him, who have been crushing the ball the past few months. No margin for error pitching against the big man. "You gotta think twice," said Alou of that particular dilemma. "The key is to play those guys all the time." Barry's bonking: Yes, Giants rookie Kevin Frandsen will always remember May 5 at Miller Park, his personal "mayday" when he kayoed Bonds. By accident, of course. Prior to the game, Frandsen fouled a ball in the batting cage and it slammed into the protective netting, conking Bonds on the forehead. Blithely unaware of the incident, Frandsen hit another ball and ran to first. Bonds was standing too close to the netting, and he was knocked to the ground. After about five minutes, he seemed fine and later played in the game, as did Frandsen. "I was freaked out" when he learned what happened, said Frandsen. "I was rattled by the fact that it happened. Your first time up [to the Majors] and you don't want anything to go wrong. You don't want to do that to anyone." How did Bonds react to the rookie's foul tip? "We ended up having dinner at the same table that night and we talked about it," said Frandsen. "I was thinking, 'Oh, he's going to be mad at me right now.' But he said not to worry about it." Growing up, Frandsen said he, his family and buddies particularly cheered for Bonds. Game time change: Next Saturday's game at AT&T Park against the Los Angeles Dodgers has been rescheduled for a 1:10 p.m. PT start after being selected as a FOX telecast. The original game time was 6:05 p.m. Extra-base hits: Alou needs only four hits to reach the 2,000-hit plateau and become only the 244th player in Major League history to attain that figure. ... Hillenbrand is four doubles shy of 200 in his career ... If reliever Steve Kline pitches in four more games, he'll rank 22nd on the all-time left-handed pitching list with Randy Myers (728). ... Mark Sweeney is one pinch-hit short of solo possession of fifth place all-time (Dave Hansen, 139) and four shy to tie Greg Gross (143) for fourth place. Coming up: Right-hander Matt Cain (13-10, 3.99 ERA) could make a further pitch to earn Rookie of the Year honors when he opposes the Brewers in a day game at Miller Park on Sunday. He's 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA in his last seven starts. The Brewers send right-hander Ben Sheets (5-7, 4.21) to the hill.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.