SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Bonds took the night off Wednesday. The controversy surrounding the San Francisco Giants slugger, who is two shy of baseball's all-time home run record, did not.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, speaking to HBO's Bob Costas in a show that aired Tuesday, said the refusals of Bonds and Mark McGwire to address steroids accusations are tantamount to admissions they used performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds' response? He lashed out at Costas, the respected sports commentator who provided platforms for Schilling and chemist Patrick Arnold, who shot down Bonds' grand jury testimony in which Bonds claimed he thought the substance he used while hitting a record 73 homers in 2001 was flaxseed oil, not a powerful synthetic steroid.
"You mean that little midget man who absolutely knows jack ... about baseball, who never played the game before?" Bonds, speaking to a handful of reporters before Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Atlanta, said of Costas. "You can tell Bob Costas what I called him."
Arnold, who created THG, the drug known as "the clear," told Costas he found it "pretty hard to believe" Bonds didn't know what he was taking. Bonds is facing a possible federal indictment on perjury and/or tax evasion.
"I've never seen the man in my entire life," Bonds said of Arnold. "I've never heard of the man ... never."
Bonds was the primary focus of "Game of Shadows," the 2006 book that details Bonds' alleged doping regimen, which, according to the two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who wrote it, took place from about 1998 to 2003.
"If someone wrote that stuff about me and I didn't sue their [butt] off, am I not admitting that there's some legitimacy to it?" Schilling told Costas.
Bonds actually did sue the authors in March 2006, claiming they should not profit from the book because it used illegally obtained grand jury testimony, but he dropped the suit three months later.
Asked about Schilling's comments, Bonds was cryptic.
"Don't worry," he said, "my day will come."
Schilling also discussed accusations by Bonds' former mistress, Kimberly Bell, who testified before a grand jury that Bonds told her of his steroid use in 2000. She also said Bonds gave her $80,000 in cash proceeds from an autograph session to buy a house.
"If I wrote a book ... about Bob Costas' girlfriend being on the road, and giving that girlfriend card-show money, and I outlined your daily steroid regimen, I've got to believe your first line of defense is to sue my [butt] off," Schilling said.
"It goes to the Mark McGwire thing in Congress," Schilling continued, alluding to the former slugger's refusal to answer questions about his alleged steroid use in a 2005 congressional hearing. "I'm a huge Mark McGwire fan. But I always thought it was very simple: If you did something and someone asks you if you did it and you didn't do it, you say no. Any other answer than no is some form of yes, isn't it?"
Bonds, who usually answers critics with prodigious home runs, was too worn down by Tuesday's 13-inning, four-hour loss to muster an on-field response Wednesday.
Manager Bruce Bochy started Fred Lewis in place of Bonds, who has five hits in his last 38 at-bats, in hopes of avoiding last week's scenario, when a slumping Bonds needed three days off because of sore legs.
"His shins have flared up," Bochy said of Bonds, who turned 43 Tuesday. "I could see it. It was a long game."
Bonds' swing looks a little long too. He has swung hard and missed several pitches this week and fouled off a few pitches he normally crushes.
Atlanta veterans John Smoltz and Tim Hudson attacked Bonds in the first two games -- of Hudson's 14 pitches to Bonds Tuesday, 13 were strikes, and 13 were fastballs. Smoltz relied on sliders and fastballs Monday.
Have the Braves challenged Bonds?
"Challenging me is fastballs," Bonds said, with a hint of indignation. "Don't throw me a changeup and a split-finger and a slider at my kneecaps. Tell me what's coming, and I'll put it in the
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Hank Aaron surpassed Babe Ruth's career home run record of 714 in 1974, and finished with 755. Barry Bonds is closing on Aaron's record:
* Home runs: 753.
* Wednesday: Did not play
* Projected date to break record: Sat.,
Aug. 11 vs. Pittsburgh.
* Next for Giants: vs. Atlanta today (Buddy Carlyle)
* Bonds vs. Carlyle: 0 for 0