Bonds may not be part of Giants' new direction

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO -- If Barry Bonds is back with the San Francisco Giants next season, and that still seems to be a big if, owner Peter Magowan said the slugger will not be the centerpiece of the roster any longer.

"I think we need to go in a new direction," Magowan said Monday after the club announced manager Felipe Alou's contract would not be renewed. "We have for a long time had a strategy that has worked well until the last two years, when it hasn't worked so well. The strategy has been one of having a great player -- maybe the greatest player in the game -- at the centerpiece and filling in with veteran players.

"For a long time that worked well. It caught up with us the past couple of years. Now we do need to get younger and healthier."

The Giants have 11 potential free agents.

"It's a tough decision, but the decision's going to be made on what gives the Giants the best chance to win," Magowan said. "It's not going to be made on what gives the Giants the best chance to fill up a ballpark on some marketing situation. I feel the best marketing is to win.

"Whether Barry fits into that plan or not will depend on baseball evaluations of whether he will be able to give us a better chance of winning or not. Not whether or not we have a better chance of drawing 3 million people to the ballpark to watch him pursue a home run chase."

The 42-year-old Bonds' $90 million, five-year contract is up with San Francisco, though he has said he would like to return to the Giants for a 15th season -- 2007 would be his 22nd in the big leagues.

Bonds has 734 home runs, 22 from breaking Hank Aaron's career record of 755, and is eligible for free agency after the World Series. After missing all but 14 games in 2005 following three operations on his right knee, Bonds batted .270 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs in 367 at-bats in 2006.

"The biggest question is what kind of team we can have with him or without him," general manager Brian Sabean said. "Some of what you have to determine, Barry aside, is how are you going to build your roster?"

Sabean said a cleanup surgery on Bonds' left elbow to remove bone chips was "pending." Bonds expected to get it done sometime this week.

Also, Mark Sweeney was scheduled to undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee soon and minor league pitcher Merkin Valdez had reconstructive "Tommy John" surgery on his elbow last week and won't pitch next season, Sabean said.

Starting pitcher Matt Morris, who went 10-15 with a 4.98 ERA in his first season with the Giants, pitched since August with a fractured rib on his right side and a stress reaction in two other ribs on either side. Simple rest should be all Morris needs to be ready come spring training.

"Matt Morris doesn't want to use this as an excuse for his performance," trainer Stan Conte said Monday.

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