Barry Bonds is beginning to sound like a man who's planning retirement. That's what his friends say, anyway.
At 42, Bonds presumably will surpass Hank Aaron this season as the top home-run producer in MLB history and has publicly insisted that he believes he can keep playing for at least two or three more years.
He has slowed down considerably, however, and his defensive skills have deteriorated—and he knows it. Which explains why he has been telling his friends that, when his contract with the San Francisco Giants expires after this season, he may not hunt for another deal.
"Barry won't go to the American League," one of his friends tells us. "He doesn't want to ever become a one-dimensional player. He won't be a DH. Never. He'll retire before he goes to the AL, I guarantee that."
•Could Pat Gillick be on the move again? There's strong speculation that the former general manager of the Blue Jays may jump from Philadelphia to Seattle. In fact, there have been rumblings that the Phillies' GM could join a bid to buy the Mariners. Gillick was Seattle's GM from 2000 to 2003 and served as a special consultant for the team from 2004 to 2005. Chuck Armstrong is the Mariners' president, but there is talk of a shake-up after the season, with Gillick taking over as president and minority partner.
• There's a great deal of trade talk surrounding a player in the prime of his career — first baseman Mark Teixeira of the Texas Rangers. His likely destination: Baltimore. "Someone asks me about the rumours every day, so it's just something I'm dealing with," Teixeira said. "I don't worry about it. I'm going to go out there and play the same way I play no matter who I'm playing for, whether it's the Rangers or another team."
• Also rumoured to be on the trading block: Third baseman Miguel Cabrera of the Florida Marlins.
He's making $7.4 million U.S. this year and will probably receive a hefty raise in arbitration next off-season. The Marlins know they won't be able to afford that.
Cabrera's likely destination: The Dodgers.
• One more prominent name being dangled as trade bait: Pitcher Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs.
Zambrano is the Cubs' ace, but his recent fight with catcher Michael Barrett and stalled contract negotiations have made him expendable.
Zambrano's likely destination: Cleveland.
• Ozzie Guillen, controversial manager of the Chicago White Sox, is getting himself closer to the firing line by telling reporters things baseball would not like them to know.
For instance, Guillen told members of the media the other day that he was confronted by officials last year about the steroids issue, and he said these officials were determined to "nail Latin players."
"They tried to make sure Latino players were involved," said Guillen, a Venezuelan. "They tried to (make) the Latinos to be the black cloud on this thing. And that was the thing that was bothering me because they'd ask, 'Did you ever see this in Venezuela?'"
• Since Roger Clemens signed with the New York Yankees and was given the freedom to leave the team on days he is not pitching, Randy Johnson has been getting the same kind of privilege from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In fact, Johnson hasn't accompanied his team to the past two cities in which he was not scheduled to pitch.
• The New York Mets' David Wright, talking about Alex Rodriguez and the media scrutiny in New York: "It's a shame for what he's doing on the field to be known for what's going on off the field, I mean he's putting up some ridiculous numbers this year and playing the game and to realize how hard it is to do what he's doing and to get off to the start that he's done, I mean he's a guy that any young player in the game can look at him and try and mold their game after his so it's just a shame that it's got to a point where the media tries to pry into his personal life. I'm sure he'd like his personal life to be personal and be responsible for whatever happens on the field. He's always been a standup guy to answer questions when he's been in a slump and when the boo birds were after him at Yankee Stadium. He's a good guy. He doesn't deserve that crap from the media."
• The Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in having part of their 2008 spring training in China, CEO Kevin McClatchysaid.
Bob DuPuy, MLB's CEO, has said that MLB is determined to have some teams play exhibition games in China next spring in advance of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, partly to call attention to its attempt to gain reinstatement to the Olympics and partly to showcase the sport in a nation that knows little about it.
• Mets reliever Scott Schoeneweis, a member of the Jays' pitching staff last season, has played the entire season with a severed tendon behind his left knee, near the hamstring.
Schoeneweis is not using the injury as an excuse for his 5.66 earned-run average and 18 walks after 20 1/3 innings, but he said he is working on developing a more comfortable motion.
“When I go to push off and my arm’s not where it’s supposed to be, then my velocity’s not where it’s supposed to be, and neither is my location or movement,” Schoeneweis said. “I’m trying to throw like I used to throw, but I have this weakness and instability in the back of my knee.”
Schoeneweis first injured his knee last July when he played for Toronto. He hyperextended it while sprinting in the outfield and, he said, “tore some stuff up.” He has resisted a trip to the disabled list.