John Shea, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Barry Bonds will be all alone in 2007 -- except for his 24 teammates.
Bonds' one-year, $15.8 million contract was made official Monday night, and one of the contract's provisions is that the left fielder can't have his entourage -- notably his two personal trainers -- anywhere at the ballpark, including the clubhouse, trainers' room, dugout or field.
"I'm very excited, very happy that we got it all done," Bonds said in a conference call with reporters. "I'm excited to have (Bruce) Bochy as the manager. I had the opportunity to watch him on the other side, and I'm looking forward to having a good relationship (with him) and good time and getting back on the field with the guys."
While Bonds' long-time aide Harvey Shields and his other personal trainer, Greg Oliver, won't be shadowing their boss at Giants games, they're expected to continue working with Bonds at his expense. They were on the Giants' payroll from 2004 to 2006.
As a result, Bonds, 42, no longer has much of a need for four lockers in the clubhouse. In fact, pitcher Barry Zito, who signed with the Giants for seven years and $126 million, has requested his locker be next to Bonds'.
It's an obvious attempt by Zito to reach out to Bonds, who didn't often go out of the way to communicate with teammates while he had an entourage with whom to socialize.
"I have no problem with it," Bonds said of his trainers losing ballpark access. "Sweets (Oliver) and Harvey will be with me. They work for me. So we'll just be working just outside the ballpark. I have no problems with that at all."
The final agreement came in the backdrop of an ongoing perjury investigation of Bonds and whether he lied before a grand jury about taking performance-enhancing drugs, as well as recent reports he tested positive for amphetamines last year. Bonds wouldn't comment on whether he used amphetamines.
The Giants said Bonds passed a physical on Monday, and the contract was finalized in a 2 1/2-hour meeting that extended into the early evening and included seven people: Bonds, agent Jeff Borris, owner Peter Magowan, executive vice president Larry Baer, general manager Brian Sabean, Bochy and director of player personnel Bobby Evans.
When it ended, Bonds was a Giant again and assured of a 15th season in San Francisco, where he won five MVP awards, set the single-season homers record in 2001 and moved into second place all time on the career homers list, behind Henry Aaron's 755.
But through it all, Bonds became the face of the BALCO steroids scandal. The latest drug-related revelation came Jan. 11 when the New York Daily News reported Bonds failed an amphetamine test in 2006 and suggested it was because of a substance taken from teammate Mark Sweeney's locker.
After the story broke, the Giants considered backing out of the deal, club sources said -- in baseball circles, dragging a teammate into such a mess is considered more damning than a flunked amphetamine test -- but the Giants resumed negotiations after deciding the Bonds-Sweeney issue wouldn't bring down the team.
"Mark Sweeney never did anything wrong, period," said Bonds, who denied blaming Sweeney or taking any substance from his locker.
After the sides agreed on financial terms on Dec. 7 -- a $15.8 million base salary with performance clauses that could push it to $20 million -- it took nearly two months to complete the final language, which the Giants used to try to protect themselves in case Bonds misses time for being called to court
"It was a complex, lengthy, unconventional contract," Baer said. "We needed to get some reasonable assurances and protections in several areas, and those were achieved. We got those."
Shields was in charge of stretching and massaging Bonds, and Oliver oversaw more on-field work with the left fielder. They were never favorites of the Giants' medical staff, which didn't appreciate their presence without the usually required schooling and certification.
In their absence, Bonds would report only to new head trainer Dave Groeschner and his staff. Groeschner was promoted after Stan Conte's resignation following 15 years with the club including seven as the head trainer. Conte now is the Dodgers' head trainer.
Before the 2004 season, with the BALCO case at the forefront, Major League Baseball banned personal trainers, but Bonds filed a grievance with the union on grounds it violated a clause in his contract. The Giants circumvented the edict by putting Shields on their payroll and making him available to all players.
In fact, Shields worked almost exclusively with Bonds, and MLB was never in favor of the special treatment afforded to Bonds, especially after his weight trainer, Greg Anderson, was indicted in the BALCO case and later imprisoned for three months for his role in the conspiracy to distribute performance-enhancing drugs to professional and Olympic athletes. He's currently back in prison, this time for refusing to testify to the grand jury investigating Bonds for perjury.
Another member of Bonds' entourage, Anthony Phills, who was Bonds' personal photographer, was banned from the clubhouse after ESPN discontinued its reality show, "Bonds on Bonds."
Bonds is 22 homers behind Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755, and he was asked if he'd play beyond 2007 if he didn't break the record.
"I think I'll stay around until I'm a hundred, or at least try to," he said. "That's a yes. I'm going to keep playing."