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Bonds Wants to Be Judged on Statistics Alone

February 20, 1996

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ Barry Bonds wants to be judged by his statistics, not by his words or his deeds off the field or the public perception of him.

And based on those statistics, the San Francisco Giants left fielder says, ``there ain’t too many players better than I am in baseball.″

Despite playing with a hairline fracture of his right wrist for the last few weeks of the 1995 season and being emotionally drained by a messy divorce, Bonds put up some exceptional numbers last year.

He hit .294 with 33 homers, 104 RBIs and 109 runs scored. He led the NL with 120 walks and a .431 on-base percentage. He had 12 outfield assists. He became the first Giants player with 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season since his father, Bobby, did it in 1973.

Bonds, who was testy and defensive Monday in his first meeting of the year with reporters, accuses them of worshipping players such as Ken Griffey Jr.

``If you guys can put someone’s stats with mine, then let me know who it is,″ he says. ``If people want to say Junior is better than me, that’s fine. But the stats are right there.″

Griffey, who missed much of the 1995 season with a broken wrist, hit .258 with 17 homers, 42 RBIs and 52 runs. He stole four bases and had a .379 on-base percentage.

Bonds had plenty of other complaints about reporters, saying they turned fans against baseball last season and are ``destructive″ in general.

``I’m not going to let you guys get under my skin any more,″ he said in the middle of a combative session with reporters.

Bonds let plenty of things get under his skin last season.

He was mentally exhausted by a publicly humiliating divorce case that dragged through the season. He jousted with fans after getting booed at Candlestick Park for standing still as a fly ball went over his head for a two-run double.

And, in a strike-scarred season that turned many baseball fans into cynics, Bonds and his $43.75 million contract became targets for those who claimed greed was destroying baseball.

It left Bonds with constant headaches, and led him to hint he would consider retirement after the season.

``I was in a lot of pain,″ he says, referring specifically to the wrist injury but in a sense to the 1995 season in general. ``I just wanted to get to the finish line.″

After surviving that season of pain and anguish, Bonds says he’s in the best shape of his life _ thanks to a new workout regimen and the end of the divorce case.

He spent much of the offseason doing intense workouts with former San Francisco 49ers running back Roger Craig, and they were joined by 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice in recent weeks.

The workouts began in October, and took place five days a week.

``We all do it because of pride, fear of failure,″ he says. ``I just didn’t think I was going to get through it. They tried to break me. There were a lot of days I didn’t want to go back.″

Much of their work was done on the track, where Bonds _ who has always prided himself on having enough natural ability to overcome a lack of dedication to conditioning _ challenged himself to keep pace.

``I’m in the best shape I feel I’ve ever been. I just want to tell Jerry: `Man, I made it,‴ Bonds says. ``I’m a lot stronger than I ever was. I can bench press 315.″

The result is that Bonds feels more confident entering spring training than he’s been since winning his third MVP award in 1993.

``I’m happy now. I’m free of a lot of things and I’m content,″ he says. ``I’m not as tired. I don’t have to be in court as much.″

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