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Giants Bonds Off to Fast Start - 2002-04-10

Major League Baseball's home run king, Barry Bonds, of the San Franscisco Giants has begun this season where he left off last season - knocking baseballs out of ballparks.

Barry Bonds came into the season with many observers and fans expecting him to start slowly and build as he chases his own single-season record of 73 home runs. Looking at the San Francisco Giants' early schedule it appeared it could take awhile for him to get going.

The Giants opened against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Bonds had a paltry 1-16 (1.16) batting average against starting pitcher Kevin Brown. But Bonds connected for a home run off Brown and another later in the game.

The next day, Bonds came out and pounded two more home runs, one off of Japanese pitcher Hideo Nomo, against whom he had a 1-60 (.160) batting average.

The four home runs in consecutive games to open the season tied a 44-year old record held by Milwaukee Braves third-baseman Eddie Matthews.

But Bonds said that his goal was not to pound the huge hits - he is more focused on winning ball games. "I just try to see it and hit it," he said. "And I try to get in the right position to be able to make good contact. I am strong enough to hit the ball out of the ballpark. I am just trying to stay consistent and make contact."

Then in San Francisco's home opener against the San Diego Padres, Bonds crushed his fifth home run of the season in the 10th inning to give the Giants the win.

Giants manager Dusty Baker says Bonds shows qualities that many of the greats of sports have, getting the job done when it is needed. "He picked up where he left off last year," he said. "That is what Michael Jordan said before. That is what the greats do. Michael Jordan, Hank Aaron, Mario Lemieux, [Wayne] Gretzky - that is what they do."

Some might say it is too early in the season to start calculating whether Bonds will surpass his own home run record. Even the Giants' slugger downplays the big hits, giving credit to his teammates for helping win games. His overall goal is to win the World Series, but his devastating hits make Barry Bonds' journey from spring training to the Fall Classic (World Series) something to watch.