Giants prepared for life after Bonds

SAN FRANCISCO -- The home run king is currently unemployed.

Spring training camps open next week around Arizona and Florida and, as of now, there are no plans for Barry Bonds to report to any of them. That's because the indicted, free-agent slugger remains unsigned and is still looking for work.

He repeatedly said last season that he would be in uniform in 2008, yet it remains to be seen if that will happen. One thing's for sure, it won't be in San Francisco.

The Giants have already moved forward without No. 25. They started that process way back in September, when owner Peter Magowan told Bonds they would be parting ways after 15 years.

"Kind of a fresh start. It's going to be different without Barry here, no doubt about that," said Dan Ortmeier, the Giants' projected starter at first base. "He'll be missed, there's no question. But he's moved on and I guess it's time for us to move on now -- and we're going to do it. We've got our leaders."

Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, declined to comment when asked whether any clubs had expressed interest in Bonds.

The Oakland Athletics at one point were a possible option for Bonds, who at age 43 with a pair of balky knees said he would have welcomed a move to the American League as a designated hitter. But the A's apparently lost interest after the seven-time NL MVP was indicted Nov. 15 on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for telling a BALCO grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly took illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

Now, bringing Bonds aboard means instant baggage and distraction for any team willing to give him another shot at chasing 800 home runs, 3,000 hits and the World Series ring that is about the only thing to elude him during his decorated yet controversial 22-year major league career.

Bonds broke Hank Aaron's home run record Aug. 7 and finished the season with 762 home runs. He has 2,935 hits and has said reaching 3,000 is another goal.

Yet teams must ask themselves: Is the risk worth the reward? Most baseball officials are avoiding the subject of Bonds' baseball future altogether.

They will tell you in confidence that adding Bonds could disrupt chemistry, alienate fans and bring other negative attention to an organization. Not to mention a media circus that bothered his San Francisco teammates in recent years.

In January, Bonds asked a federal judge to dismiss perjury charges against him, arguing the indictment is "scattershot" and noted for its "striking inartfulness."

Bonds' lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to toss the case or order prosecutors to streamline the indictment, which cites 19 different instances of Bonds' alleged lying. Bonds has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Illston, who's hearing all cases related to the BALCO steroids ring, is scheduled to hear from Bonds' legal team Feb. 29.

A trial likely wouldn't begin until after this baseball season, but teams still appear hesitant to bring the 14-time All-Star aboard with his legal problems lurking.

The A's, meanwhile, have all but said they're out of the picture for the left fielder. They are now in full-on rebuilding mode.

Oakland traded away ace Dan Haren to Arizona in December, and popular outfielders Nick Swisher and Mark Kotsay were dealt last month -- all for lesser-known players or prospects.

Some Giants are having a tough time picturing the clubhouse without Bonds at his corner spot watching TV, asleep on a couch, or strolling onto the field later than the rest of the group to stretch before a game. But that will be reality next week. The team's pitchers and catchers report to their spring facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Wednesday.

"It's going to be different without him here, but it's also going to be great to have the personalities of (Barry) Zito and (Aaron) Rowand come in and be able to take over the clubhouse," infielder Kevin Frandsen said.

"And I hope they do, and make it fun. The game we play is fun."

On Sunday, the Giants agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with reliever Scott Williamson and invited him to spring training.

Williamson, the 1999 NL Rookie of the Year who turns 32 next Sunday, is scheduled to report to the team's spring training complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Wednesday with pitchers and catchers.