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Old 04-28-2009, 11:17 PM   Topic Starter
DeezNutz DeezNutz is offline
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Whitlock: Royals need to sign Bonds


It’s time the Royals invested in Bonds

This column is in no way an attempt to divert attention away from Zack Greinke’s bid for history tonight at Kauffman Stadium. It’s a plea to get Greinke and the Royals some help.

Barry Bonds should be wearing a Royals uniform this season. The game’s greatest hitter has yet to retire or be convicted of a crime. He’s been railroaded by the commissioner, a publicity-seeking federal prosecutor and the hypocritically self-righteous segment of the baseball media.

While virtually every other steroid cheater continues to play the game without incident or much backlash, America’s home-run king is being treated like a heavyweight champion with the audacity to conscientiously object to the Vietnam War.

Barry is serving the second year of what his critics hope is a lifetime banishment from the game that milked his home-run power when it made good business sense and discarded him when it needed a poster child for steroid abuse.

I wish the Royals had the courage to reinstate Bonds. He could help their anemic offense and potentially lift the Royals into the playoffs. Tuesday afternoon I milled around the Royals clubhouse asking players what they thought of Bonds and whether they’d have a problem playing with the all-time great.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a Bonds critic inside the clubhouse.

“I’d feel honored to play with him,” Royals catcher John Buck said. “You can’t take away what he’s done in the game.”

Billy Butler added: “I wouldn’t have a problem at all. I’d work with him. If he’d help our team win, I think it would be good for our team. Whatever is good for Kansas City.”

“I have no problem playing with anybody,” said outfielder José Guillen, who was briefly in trouble for suspected steroid use. “What is the problem with playing with Barry Bonds?”

Great question.

“It’s unfortunate he’s not playing,” Mike Jacobs said. “You hope it’s not some sort of collusion (by the owners). He’s no different from the other guys who were suspected of taking whatever. Obviously there’s something fishy with him not playing.”

I suspect the Royals aren’t the only major leaguers who think it’s ridiculous Bonds has been blackballed from the game. Greinke, Brian Bannister, Kyle Davies and Mark Teahen all told me they wouldn’t have an issue playing alongside the man who has been portrayed by the media as the worst teammate in professional sports.

“I’ve never experienced anything with him,” said Greinke, who will attempt tonight to complete his sixth straight start without surrendering an earned run. “I don’t know what he’s like. But as long as he’s not disruptive to the team, I probably wouldn’t have a problem.”

“I admired the way (Bonds) played the game,” Bannister said.

In 2007, Barry played in 126 games for the San Francisco Giants. He swatted 28 home runs, hit .276, recorded a league-leading .480 on-base percentage and 132 walks. Bonds was barry, barry good for a 42-year-old left fielder. He’s 44 now and will be 45 in July. He’s still in marvelous condition. He should be playing baseball.

“I bet you this,” Guillen told me. “Barry puts on a uniform and gets in the batter’s box, he will still make the pitcher scared.”

Teahen said: “He’s the best hitter in the game. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he could take a year off and still hit.”

“Look at him,” Buck said. “He still looks like a beast. I’m sure he still has an at-bat or two in him.”

Bannister added: “He always had the hand-eye coordination. He still has it.”

Even Royals Hall of Famer Frank White thinks Barry could still be a difference-maker.

“He’s worth three victories,” White said. “He’d certainly give your lineup credibility.”

Early during Tuesday’s game I chatted with Royals general manager Dayton Moore about Bonds, KC’s players reaction to Bonds and whether the Royals would consider signing Bonds.

“Where we are and what we’re trying to accomplish with this team,” Moore said, “we’re comfortable with the makeup of our team.”

Jacobs and Butler DH and play first base for the Royals. They’re young and under contract. The Royals already have a defensive liability in their outfield, José Guillen. Working Bonds into the lineup would be difficult and maybe even a little painful.

It would be worth it. Greinke is bidding for a nice piece of history tonight and the new K will be half full. That would not be the case with Bonds in uniform.

I asked Moore if Bonds’ baggage would prevent the Royals from signing the slugger.

“No,” he said. “Not for me.”

Can Bonds still be a productive player?

“I don’t know,” Moore said. “I can’t answer that.”

Moore did add that utility infielder Julio Franco played until age 48.

I could only find one man adamantly against my plan to bring Bonds to Kansas City.

“I don’t think you can sit out that long and still play,” former Royal Brian McRae told me. “He’s 45. His body is worn. He’s had the hip and elbow injuries. He popped his quad and hasn’t been working out much. I just don’t think he can still be effective.

“The Royals need to be a playoff team with the players they have.”

McRae is wrong. The Royals need to make a playoff push by any means necessary. And Barry Bonds needs to fail at least once before I believe he can’t play any more.
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