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Bonds Not Scheduled For Cactus Opener

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AP
It's no surprise that Barry Bonds will not play in San Francisco's Cactus League opener Thursday against the Chicago Cubs. The slugger rarely treks to road ballparks _ as close as they are around here _ during the exhibition season.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Monday he is opting to keep Bonds back at Scottsdale Stadium to get his work in despite how healthy and strong the San Francisco star has been feeling so far.

"Does it matter?" Bonds said with a smile after his workout Monday. "It's the same question every year. ... I'm exhausted."

Reminded that he is Barry Bonds _ and 22 homers shy of breaking Hank Aaron's home run record _ and most everyone is interested in his schedule, he chuckled and quipped, "I'm changing my name."

Bonds' first chance to play at home in Scottsdale will be Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Sometimes in recent springs, a reeling Bonds had the chance to be the designated hitter even against National League teams when the opposing club agreed to it. Bochy doesn't see that being necessary this year.

"He's not going to Mesa. We'll see where Barry's at," Bochy said. "We need to get him ready for the season. I don't think it takes Barry long to get ready. We need to get him the at-bats he needs."

If Bonds had been set to play, the game would have featured three of the biggest free agents from the offseason. Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano signed an eight-year, $136 million deal; Bonds received a $15.8 million, one-year contract; and left-hander Barry Zito will take the mound for the first time since the Giants gave him a $126 million, seven-year deal in late December.

Yes, Zito vs. Soriano still will pique fans' interest.

The 42-year-old Bonds has been upbeat and enjoying himself so far this spring. Before Monday's workout, the team held the second segment of its "Giants Idol" show with the young players performing atop the dugout. Zito posed as Paula Abdul, while Rich Aurilia and Randy Winn were the other judges.

A grinning Bonds, flanked by his new Major League Baseball security guard, Gene McClanahan, sang along to Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" _ performed by catcher Steve Holm _ and clapped his hands above his head to cheer on his teammates. Bonds high-fived a couple of contestants as they hopped off the dugout stage.

Bonds also greeted his godfather, Willie Mays, after the Hall of Famer made his first appearance of the spring at the ballpark.

The seven-time NL MVP is clearly more relaxed in 2007 _ quite a contrast from a year ago after the release of the book "Game of Shadows," which claims his doping regimen began after the 1998 season when Bonds saw the attention Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa generated in their race for the single-season home run record. Bonds, who has long denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs, later broke that record with 73 homers in 2001.

This year, he's still facing questions about whether he failed an amphetamines test last season _ he won't comment _ and the possibility he could be indicted by a federal grand jury on perjury charges.

He insists he's unconcerned. Bonds, who's coming off surgery on his troublesome left elbow, played regularly in 2006 and plans to do so again.

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 130 games last year. He passed Babe Ruth to move into second place on the career home run list May 28.

He hasn't made any predictions about when he might catch Hammerin' Hank.

Giants owner Peter Magowan said Friday that he hopes both Mays and Bonds will have a role in this summer's All-Star game at AT&T Park, whether or not Bonds is actually playing in the summer classic.

Mays said he wanted to talk to Magowan in the coming days about what he might do during the festivities. The 75-year-old "Say Hey Kid," who has stuck close to Bonds snce the slugger's father, Bobby, died in August 2003, is tied with Stan Musial for most All-Star games at 24.

"It's always an honor to be involved in baseball tradition," Mays said, eating lunch at a clubhouse table. "I don't know what he has in mind. I just feel that I'm part of San Francisco, and whatever's going on in San Francisco, I should be part of it."

Notes:@ Bochy said 1B Aurilia is the "front-runner" to bat third behind Dave Roberts and Omar Vizquel. ... 2B Ray Durham returned to the field and was trying to regain his strength two days after having the flu. He missed two workouts. ... C Eliezer Alfonzo (left side strain) and RHP Carlos Hines (sore shoulder) are improving but still could be sidelined for a couple of days. Hines is scheduled to be examined by a team doctor Tuesday.