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Notes: Bonds talks Robinson

Notes: Bonds talks Robinson

PITTSBURGH -- It's often said that Martin Luther King Day isn't a holiday geared just toward African-Americans; it's a holiday for everybody.

Employing that perspective, Giants left fielder Barry Bonds pointed out that the impact of Jackie Robinson, who's being honored throughout the Major Leagues on Sunday, transcends the same racial barriers the Brooklyn Dodgers legend broke.

Asked to define Robinson's significance, Bonds said Friday, "I don't think only African-American athletes should be answering the question. I think baseball should be answering the question as well; some of the white ballplayers should be answering that question as well. Not just African-American ballplayers. We already know what it means to us."

Bonds noted that Robinson helped baseball truly become America's game: "Now we have more Asian players, Hispanic players, Canadian players, European players -- now it's America's pastime. Baseball is for everyone and Jackie was a big part of that. He was at the forefront of all of the changes."

Bonds plans on participating in the celebration by wearing Robinson's No. 42 on Sunday, but whether he'll play in that afternoon's series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates is another matter. Rain and perhaps even snow are in the forecast for that day; manager Bruce Bochy might prefer to bench Bonds to avoid the possibility of his left fielder sustaining a leg injury in the treacherous conditions.

"We'll see where he's at and what kind of day it is," Bochy said. "If we're better off giving him a day, I'll have to do it."

Bonds declined to look too far ahead. "I'm already padded up on my knees already. I just want to get through today," he said.

Infield imbalance: Bochy acknowleged that optioning Kevin Frandsen to Triple-A Fresno left the Giants short on backup infield help -- except at first base, where they have four players who can handle that spot.

Bochy believes that Rich Aurilia can fill in at second base, shortstop and third when he's not playing first. Third baseman Pedro Feliz also can play elsewhere if necessary. Bochy also cited off-days as a factor, since the Giants have four of them scheduled between April 23-May 28. "We can get by for at least 10 days, if not more, without needing an extra infielder," he said.

Bochy emphasized that the Giants want Frandsen, who had only one at-bat in three appearances before being sent to Fresno, to stay sharp in the Minors for a likely recall. "He will be needed," Bochy said. "He'll be back up here at some point. It's a matter of time."

Sweeney's back: Mark Sweeney, one of those four first basemen, knows that he might not be wearing a fielder's glove too often.

"I've been with 'Boch' before, so I have an understanding of what he's going to do. I assume I'll be getting ready to pinch-hit against right-handers," said Sweeney, who's tied for fifth with Dave Hansen on the all-time pinch-hit list. When Ryan Klesko doesn't start, Bochy will have two left-handed hitters on the bench, giving him more options for the later innings against right-handed relievers.

Late in Spring Training, few people familiar with the Giants could have envisioned Sweeney as an active player with the club at this juncture. He appeared to be an odd man out in a roster crunch. Then he was put on the disabled list with a bruised right foot and outfielder Jason Ellison was traded to Seattle. But until Frandsen was optioned to Fresno, Sweeney wasn't guaranteed a spot on the active roster when he became eligible to return from the disabled list.

Typically a vocal presence in the clubhouse, Sweeney was noticeably reserved while he was in limbo. In a sense, he's still recovering.

"When it comes down to it, you have to focus on what you have to do," he said. "A lot of people say [I'm] a good clubhouse guy. Well, you're not a good clubhouse guy if you're not doing your job and getting hits."

Itch to switch: The Giants' starting lineup Friday included four switch-hitters: Omar Vizquel, Todd Linden, Ray Durham and Randy Winn. They often started that many switch-hitters in 1997, when they had Jose Vizcaino, Bill Mueller, Stan Javier and J.T. Snow, who hadn't yet begun batting only left-handed.

Bochy recalled having four switch-hitters on his roster last season with San Diego -- Josh Bard, Rob Bowen, Mark Bellhorn and Geoff Blum -- although he couldn't remember whether they started a game together. It's unlikely, since Bard and Bowen are both catchers.

Rincon signed: The Giants signed left-hander Ricardo Rincon to a Triple-A contract and assigned him to extended Spring Training. Rincon, 37, underwent elbow and shoulder surgery last May. Bay Area baseball fans remember him for his effective seasons with the A's from 2002-05, but he was limited to five appearances and a 10.80 ERA last year with St. Louis.

Up next: Barry Zito will make his first start in Pittsburgh as the Giants and Pirates continue their series on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Zito has pitched in PNC Park before, having worked a scoreless inning in last July's All-Star Game. He'll oppose Pittsburgh right-hander Tony Armas.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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