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Wednesday, March 9, 2005; Page D05

Barry Bonds expects to be ready for San Francisco's season opener on April 5, and the Giants asked the commissioner's office for permission to use a designated hitter during spring training home games in order to ease him into the exhibition season.

"I've never missed an Opening Day," Bonds said yesterday. "Being announced before your fans on Opening Day is great. The main thing down here is to be able to play nine innings consistently every day. That's recovery."

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Bonds had surgery on his right knee on Jan. 31. When he arrived at spring training he said he was unsure whether the knee would recover in time to play the opener. He has not played in any exhibition games.

The Cincinnati Reds were given permission last weekend to use a DH in five home games starting tomorrow, so Ken Griffey Jr. can bat without playing the field. In spring training, the DH usually is used only at the home parks of American League teams.

"What MLB told me was that as long as we offered the visiting team the same opportunity to use a DH during one of our home games and contacted MLB before we do it, it would be okay," Giants assistant GM Ned Colletti said.

-- From News Services

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