|Barry Bonds says he's willing to play for the minimum salary - or even for free - but still can't get a nibble. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)|
Barry Bonds has no desire to play for an independent minor league team in an effort to spur interest among major league clubs.
The indicted career home run leader remains unsigned, even though he batted .276 last season with 28 homers, 66 RBIs, and a major league-leading 132 walks.
Just last week, outfielder Jay Gibbons agreed to a contract with the minor league Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. Gibbons failed to receive a major league offer after Baltimore released him near the end of spring training.
"He has nothing to prove there," Bonds's agent, Jeff Borris, said yesterday. "He doesn't need to go to an independent team and hit two home runs a night hoping to get attention to prove that he still has the skills that would warrant him playing at the major league level. His performance in 2007 demonstrates that he's capable of playing at the major league level for the 2008 season."
The players' association expressed concern to the commissioner's office last month over the lack of offers to Bonds and asked for additional information about the offseason's free agent market. The union is still investigating, general counsel Michael Weiner said this week.
The commissioner's office maintains that each team has acted independently and that there has not been a concerted effort against Bonds.
Bonds raised his home-run total to 762 last year, seven more than Hank Aaron's previous record. The San Francisco Giants, Bonds's team since the 1993, decided not to re-sign him.
Bonds was indicted late last year on charges of lying when he told a grand jury in 2003 that he didn't knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs, and a trial is scheduled to start next March 2 in San Francisco.
Teams have shied away, not wanting to deal with the attention Bonds would bring. The outfielder, who turns 44 July 24, has been offered by Borris to all 30 teams for a prorated share of the $390,000 minimum.
Borris said Bonds even would play for free - offering to donate whatever salary he receives to purchase tickets for children.
"Let's look at the facts," Borris said. "Barry performed admirably in 2007. Barry is healthy. Barry has been offered at the minimum salary and Barry's trial date is in March of 2009, so there would be no interruption of the 2008 season. It defies explanation as to why he is not employed in 2008 with a major league club."
It was simply time for the Hall of Fame to recognize Jackie Robinson's real mark on baseball.
Nearly a half-century after he was inducted into the Hall, the late Brooklyn Dodgers great received a rare honor - a new plaque that pays tribute to the cultural impact he had on the game and the country as the first black player in the major leagues.
"A very important part of Jack's life has been acknowledged today in a more total way," Robinson's 86-year-old wife, Rachel, said at a brief unveiling ceremony in the Hall of Fame Gallery.
The new plaque adds "Jackie" under his full name, Jack Roosevelt Robinson, and the inscription is more detailed than the original: "A player of extraordinary ability renowned for his electrifying style of play. Over 10 seasons hit .311, scored more than 100 runs six times, named to six All-Star teams and led Brooklyn to six pennants and its only World Series title, in 1955. The 1947 Rookie of the Year, and the 1949 N.L. MVP when he hit a league-best .342 with 37 steals. Led second basemen in double plays four times and stole home 19 times."
The final sentence is a fitting epitaph for Robinson, who died in 1972 at age 53: "Displayed tremendous courage and poise in 1947 when he integrated the modern major leagues in the face of intense adversity."