ANAHEIM – Everywhere the Anaheim Angels go, the question is the same: Pitch to Barry Bonds or walk him?
Listening to the talk Tuesday at Edison Field, it seems the Angels will be playing only against Bonds in the World Series, trying to devise a plan to somehow beat him, 25 on 1.
“The last two seasons, he’s had the most incredible seasons in the history of baseball, if you look at all his numbers and all the microstatistics,” Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said.
Of course, San Francisco will have 25 players on the roster when the first all wild-card World Series opens Saturday night. But Bonds is the focus, which puts Scott Schoeneweis in the spotlight. Bonds is 1-for-7 against the left-hander with four strikeouts, no walks and no home runs.
“The best-case scenario is to get the guys out before Barry comes up,” Schoeneweis said.
And with no one on base, there’s a good chance Bonds will be walked.
Bonds was walked a record 198 times during the season – and scored on just 34 of them, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Following his record 68 intentional walks, he scored just three times.
Of course, 79 of his walks came with two outs.
“The guys that faced the guy every day, all the time, year in, year out, they all seemed to do the same thing,” Angels pitching coach Bud Black said. “I don’t think that they’re all wrong.”
Still, his gut feeling was Anaheim would pitch most of the time to Bonds, who has four homers and 10 RBIs in the postseason.
In addition to Schoeneweis – Anaheim’s only lefty reliever – Bonds has faced just three other pitchers on Anaheim’s roster: He’s 4-for-7 with two homers, two walks and a strikeout against Kevin Appier; 0-for-1 against right-handed reliever Ben Weber; and 0-for-1 with three walks and no strikeouts against Troy Percival.
“We’ll just be smart. I don’t think we’ll be scared of him and pitch around him,” said Jarrod Washburn, picked Tuesday by Scioscia to start the opener.
“We’ll try to not let him beat us. I’ll challenge him. I’m looking forward to the challenge. He’s a great player. If there’s a situation where he can beat us, the smart thing to do is pitch around him.”
Washburn isn’t a fan of intentional walks when no one is on base.
“I don’t see that happening,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to be intimidated or scared by Barry Bonds. We’re going to be smart about it.”
As workers cleaned and did some touchup paint work at the ballpark, Washburn already was looking ahead to the opener, where he could face the Giants’ Jason Schmidt.
“I’m sure I’ll be thinking about it a lot,” Washburn said. “It’s going to be the biggest game of my life. I’m pretty sure we won’t sweep and they won’t sweep, so I’ll have another start and that will be the biggest game of my life.”
It’s the first World Series between second-place teams, with the Giants (95-66) finishing 2 1/2 games behind Arizona in the NL West, then beating Atlanta and St. Louis.
Anaheim (99-63) set a franchise record for wins, but finished four games behind Oakland. The Angels then upset the New York Yankees and beat Minnesota.
Because of interleague play, the Angels and Giants have faced each other in regular-season games – but didn’t play this year. San Francisco holds an 11-5 advantage, and Bonds has five homers against Anaheim.
“The Angels are a team that doesn’t quit,” Giants manager Dusty Baker said. “They can score a lot of runs. They don’t strike out. They can put the ball in play. They have a fundamentally sound team defensively, offensively. Good team speed, good young bullpen that nobody knows that much about, and young pitchers, which is to their advantage.
“And most people don’t know that much about them.”