SAN FRANCISCO — The season-long wait for Barry Bonds is about to end for the San Francisco Giants, who announced Saturday that the seven-time Most Valuable Player will be activated from the disabled list Monday.
The left fielder, who ranks fourth on the all-time home-run list, thus will be eligible to play in the opener of three-game series against the National League West-leading San Diego Padres, which begins Monday night at SBC Park. The Giants, in a second-place tie in the West with the Los Angeles Dodgers, trail San Diego by seven games with 21 to go.
Bonds' impending return was greeted with cheers and scattered boos from the sellout crowd of 42,013 at SBC Park when the news was posted on the center-field scoreboard during the seventh inning of the Giants' 5-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Bonds avoided reporters before Saturday's game, saying only "I don't know yet" when asked if he would try to play Sunday. But the Giants' official announcement ended the guessing.
"There are going to be a lot of expectations, and somebody who can fulfill that is him," outfielder Moises Alou said. "We're waiting for him with arms open and hopefully he'll give us that boost."
Bolstering the lineup against the Padres wasn't mentioned as a factor in the timing of Bonds' return. Given Bonds' recent comments about having to re-adjust to San Francisco's cool weather, many observers speculated that he would return when the Giants played an afternoon game. But a Giants spokesman said that after the club consulted Dr. Lewis Yocum, who supervised Bonds' recovery from three arthroscopic right knee surgeries, all parties determined that activating him Monday was the best way to avoid a physical setback.
Manager Felipe Alou trusted Bonds' judgment about his readiness to play. "Whatever is good enough for him," Alou said of Bonds, who ended his streak of five consecutive days of on-field workouts Saturday. "He is 41 years old. He knows his body better than any doctor, any manager or anyone else."
How much Bonds will play Monday remains uncertain. Asked after Saturday's game whether Bonds will start immediately, Alou said, "I'll think about it."
Before the game, however, Alou discussed how the middle of the batting order might look when Bonds returns to bat fourth. He said that Ray Durham, who has been hitting primarily fifth, might move to third, with Moises Alou slipping into the fifth spot.
"That's what we got him for," Felipe Alou said of his son. J.T. Snow, the primary No. 3 hitter, would drop to sixth.
Bonds owns a career .316 batting average (6 for 19) against right-hander Adam Eaton, San Diego's scheduled starter Monday. Bonds also has hit three of his 703 career homers off Eaton.
Moises Alou said he expects Bonds will be at or near his slugging peak, despite the prolonged layoff.
"I'm sure somebody's going to try to challenge him. And then he'll take somebody deep and then that's going to be it — back to the same old pitch-around-him," Moises Alou said.
Snow was too miffed over the Giants' defeat to exult over Bonds. "I'm not concerned about Monday. I'm concerned about today," he said. "I'm sure it's exciting for you guys, but we just lost. I really haven't given too much thought about Monday, to tell you the truth."
Asked if Bonds' return would buttress the Giants' sagging hopes in the division race, Snow said, "Let's wait until Monday to make sure everything works out all right."
But shortstop Omar Vizquel embraced Bonds' imminent presence without hesitation.
"We never lose hope, with Barry or without Barry. We're still playing for something," Vizquel said. "Now with the news that he's going to be back, it's going to be even better."