Bonds moves on after mark

Published 3:11 pm Thursday, August 9, 2007

A much more subdued scene greeted Barry Bonds at the ballpark a day after he became home run king. Until, that is, the moment he hit another one.

Only about 24 hours after Bonds connected for No. 756 no less.

He hit a towering two-run shot into McCovey Cove in the first inning of the San Francisco Giants’ 5-0 victory over the Washington on Wednesday, one night after breaking Hank Aaron’s 33-year-old record.

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“I’m pretty locked in right now,” Bonds said.

He noted the atmosphere was “a lot easier today.”

With his 756th home run out of the way and the most hallowed record in sports now his own, Bonds could finally turn his attention to more than hitting homers.

Maybe that very fact contributed to him adding to his record total.

Bonds received a warm standing ovation when he ran out to his spot in left field for the first inning and he tipped his cap and waved before blowing on his hands to get warm on another cool summer night in the Giants’ ballpark by the bay. First-pitch temperature was 62 degrees.

Bonds smiled and nodded his head to some fans on his way to the on-deck circle in the bottom of the inning, then gave them yet another reason to cheer him.

“That’s awesome,” said pitcher Matt Cain, who added his first career homer Wednesday. “It’s cool he’s just going to keep it going. It feels more relaxed now that this thing’s gotten out of the way (756). I think Barry’s relaxed, too.”

In his first at-bat since becoming home run king, Bonds sent a 1-1 pitch from Tim Redding into the bay beyond the right-field fence, a 438-foot drive that was his 35th career splash hit and second this year.

Redding became the 447th pitcher to surrender a home run to Bonds after Mike Bacsik served up the record-breaker a night earlier. Bonds hit his 23rd homer of the season, then tipped his cap when he came out in the top of the second to play left field.

When Bonds broke Mark McGwire’s single-season record with No. 71 in 2001, he homered again in his next at-bat to increase the record just like this time. The only difference was he had a night in between the at-bats.

Bonds said afterward he doesn’t plan to have a big celebration just yet for his new title.

“Maybe when the season’s over, back home with my friends,” he said. “I have to work every day. We’ll see. I’m pretty sure somebody will think of something.”

He had plenty of people sending their best wishes.

From the White House, to international home run king Sadaharu Oh in Japan, to his first major league manager, Jim Leyland, and onto Alex Rodriguez, the congratulations began to pour in for the San Francisco star, who realized in recent weeks just how difficult it is to clear the fences when that’s all you’re trying to do.

“Now, the hard part’s over, and we get to actually go back to our everyday routines and enjoy ourselves,” Bonds said.

Not that he didn’t enjoy the celebration after breaking Aaron’s mark Tuesday night in his home ballpark.

But Bonds quickly took a glimpse toward the future Wednesday: Yes, he does believe A-Rod will one day unseat him atop the home run chart.

The Yankees third baseman reached 500 at age 32 and is far ahead of Bonds’ pace.

“I’m not trying to set any bars. Alex will break my record,” Bonds said, standing at his locker with a much smaller swarm of reporters than he’s faced in recent weeks.

“He’s young enough to catch anybody. Like I said I’m rooting for him. He got through one. Each one gets a little bit tougher.”

It took Bonds a while to wind down from all the excitement surrounding this feat. His wife, Liz, sported a black T-shirt reading “The King and I” on the front. And Bonds had his two daughters, Shikari and Aisha, son Nikolai, his mother, Pat, and a sister to celebrate the moment.

Not to mention Hall of Fame godfather, Willie Mays, his agent, two of his trainers, a pair of publicists and many other friends thrilled to be part of it.

Some fans watched the team photo unfold from the peek-a-boo knothole area beyond the fence from where the picture was shot.

“Barry!” one person hollered.

Bonds’ received a call from President Bush on Wednesday morning.

“He said congratulations. He said it was great to have my kids there, my family there,” Bonds recalled. “With his father being famous as well, he understood the importance of my father. He said it was an outstanding achievement.”

Bonds’ solo shot over the wall in right-center Tuesday night gave his hometown fans a chance to forget — for this night at least — the suspicions that steroids fueled his pursuit of the Hammer.

He has long been beloved in the Bay Area despite his off-field issues.

“This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period,” Bonds said after 756.

Next up for the 43-year-old Bonds? He hopes it’s reaching 3,000 hits, and he plans to play in 2008 and beyond, as long as his body allows it.

He has 2,916 hits.

“I haven’t gotten there yet, but I want it,” Bonds said of 3,000.

Bonds’ milestone came on the three-year anniversary of Greg Maddux’s 300th victory in this stadium and the fifth anniversary of players agreeing to drug testing.

A grand jury is investigating whether Bonds perjured himself when he testified in the BALCO case that he hadn’t knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs.