Bonds draws usual fan reaction

Times Staff Writer

The villain wore the black uniform. He was booed with his every step, jeered with chants of “Cheater!” and “Steroids!”

For the last two weeks, as allegations of illegal drug use swirled around Angels center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., the home crowds at Tempe Diablo Stadium hardly cared to notice. No boos, no chants, mild cheers.

But Barry Bonds showed up Wednesday, and the fans all but shouted themselves hoarse jeering the player most commonly associated with baseball’s steroid era. Neither Bonds nor Matthews has been charged with a crime or tested positive for steroids, although Bonds reportedly tested positive for amphetamines last season and admitted to unknowingly using steroids before a federal grand jury.


Bonds did not get a hit in the Angels’ 4-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants. He struck out and popped up, both times on off-speed pitches from Angels starter Kelvim Escobar. In his final appearance, with Chris Bootcheck pitching, Bonds walked.

Matthews had a more productive day. In the morning, he ended 16 days of silence by issuing a statement in which he denied ever using human growth hormone. In the afternoon, he singled and homered in his first two at-bats.

“I think he was a little relieved this morning,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He wants it over with. Hopefully, he’s taken a big step toward that.”

Matthews, however, said he had not felt any pressure on the field because of the stalemate with Angels management over his failure to communicate.

“How are you going to provide for your family? That’s pressure,” Matthews said. “It’s still fun. It’s still the same game I’ve played since I was 5 years old.”


Escobar, who pitched 3 1/3 shutout innings, said the Angels and Detroit Tigers have the best young pitching in the majors. In addition to ace John Lackey (28) and closer Francisco Rodriguez (25), the Angels can fill out their rotation with Jered Weaver (24), Ervin Santana (24) and Joe Saunders (25).

“I don’t think you’ll find three good starters and a good closer like we have here,” Escobar said. “Besides Detroit, I don’t think there’s any team with the kind of pitching talent we have here.”

Around the horn

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