JANIE McCAULEY AP Sports Writer SAN DIEGO
Barry Bonds isn't ready to call his next history-making shot. A day before taking his quest for the record back home to San Francisco, Bonds sat back and took a deep breath to enjoy his 755th home run. "There's no pressure on me to do this right away. If I keep my mechanics right, you guys won't be around long," Bonds said Sunday. "I'd love to do a lot of things, but a lot of good fortunes have to come with that, too. I'm going to do my best." Tying Hank Aaron's record on the road lined up Bonds to be crowned the home run king in his Northern California comfort zone. He'll get his first chance at 756 tonight, in the opener of a four-game series with the Washington Nationals. Bonds said he had heard of Washington's starter for the first game, rookie left-hander John Lannan, but that's about it. He didn't plan on doing much studying, either. "I don't like to remember too much of anything," Bonds said. "I like the challenge in front of me." The game, which begins at 7:15 p. m. PDT, will be televised on ESPN2. It's the ninth game the network has added during Bonds' chase for the home run record. Bonds had a strong feeling he was headed for history as ball after ball hit his bat and flew over Petco Park's faraway fences during his early batting practice Saturday. Five hours later, Bonds hit an oppositefield drive of 382 feet to left-center to match Aaron's 33-year-old mark. "When I'm swinging the bat, doing things in batting practice, I can tell," Bonds said Sunday, standing at his locker as he leisurely got ready for a series finale in which he did not start. "If I get into position to do some things, you're in trouble." Bonds, like Aaron in 1974, tied the record on the road. Bonds was playing some 400 miles south of his hometown of San Francisco, the city where he is beloved despite allegations that steroids fueled his pursuit. After the big drive, Bonds spoke to pal Ken Griffey Jr. And received a congratulatory message from Alex Rodriguez, who hit his 500th homer earlier Saturday. Bonds' Hall of Fame godfather, Willie Mays, also left a greeting on his voicemail. There was nothing from Aaron, who repeatedly has said he will have no part in celebrating the feat. "This is the hardest thing I've had to do in my entire career," Bonds said. "I had rashes on my head; I felt like I was getting sick at times." Bonds reiterated Sunday his appreciation of San Diego fans' courteous treatment. Many around the country still consider his quest for Hammerin' Hank's record to be tainted because of the suspicions Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs to get this far. Commissioner Bud Selig was there to see it live, but made quite a statement by issuing a statement. Selig is close friends with the Hammer, who began and ended his career in the commissioner's native Milwaukee. Selig stood with his hands in his pockets as Bonds' family and friends cheered during this long-awaited trot. The seven-time NL MVP lifted his batboy son, 17-year-old Nikolai, into an embrace after crossing the plate, but said Sunday, "I'm not doing that any more for sure." "I didn't see it," Bonds said of the commissioner's reaction. "I didn't read anything yet. I just got here." Selig attended the start of Sunday's game, then returned to Milwaukee. It wasn't likely Selig would attend the next three games, baseball officials said. Bonds hit the tying homer off a former Giants draft pick who was suspended in 2005 for violating baseball's minor league steroids policy. Lost in the celebration, Bochy said was the fact Bonds nearly hit another one out. Hensley hung a changeup in one of the San Francisco star's later at-bats, and Bonds fouled the ball away. It took Bonds eight days from the time he hit his 754th home run to get No. 755, going 18 at-bats and 28 plate appearances between them. He drew 10 walks during that span. Everybody was growing anxious with each day's wait. "When we look back on it 20 years from now, we're going to thank God we were here to witness it," teammate Mark Sweeney said. "It's hard to hit home runs. It's easier for him. But still, when everyone in the stands wants you to hit it, including your teammates, it's been hard for him. I think it was a relief to get that much closer." When he gets back to AT&T Park, banners paying tribute to his great achievement will be unfurled from the light posts on each side of the main scoreboard as his fans jump to their feet and chant "Barry! Barry!" When asked what 756 will mean to him, Bonds answered quickly: "I don't know. I haven't gotten there yet." Tying Mays with his 660th home run in 2004 will always be at the top of Bonds' list no matter how many home runs he goes on to hit. "Nothing is bigger than my godfather," he said. "That's family. Nothing comes before family."