|Marlins' Dontrelle Willis stands between Barry Bonds and home run record|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 27 July 2007 19:39|
After hitting his 754th career home run on Friday night, Bonds now gets set to face Willis and the Florida Marlins on Saturday needing one big swing to tie Hank Aaron's career record of 755.
``I'm a big fan of him,'' Willis said before Friday's game. ``He's given me a lot of advice about the game. He's a great athlete. I always like the way he's played. I was lucky to see a bunch of games at Candlestick when he first came here. He's doing the same thing he was doing then. He made me want to get to the big leagues.''
Willis will try to avoid joining pitchers like Jack Billingham and Al Downing as those who gave up milestone homers. Willis' teammates wanted nothing to do with Bonds after he homered in the first inning, walking him the next four times he came to the plate.
After being told the Braves had success against Bonds by throwing him strikes, Willis said he would try to do the same.
``I've thrown fastballs to him,'' Willis said. ``You also don't want to tell him what your plan of attack is. I'm just going out there and have fun. And whatever happens happens. I just hope my family isn't here to see me give up a homer to him.''
Willis, who grew up just across San Francisco Bay in Alameda, remembers sitting in the right-field seats on cold nights at Candlestick watching how Bonds transformed this city that almost lost its baseball team before he arrived in 1993.
The two have become friends during the times they have interacted. Willis said Bonds always seeks him out when their teams play and the two have great respect for each other.
``He's one of the few players that can see three pitches in a weekend and hit three home runs,'' Willis said. ``I was always a big fan of his even when he was in Pittsburgh. Everyone gave me a hard time for being fans of him. When he came here he electrified the city and he didn't let us down.''
Bonds won five MVP awards since joining the Giants, hit 578 of his homers and led the Giants to the postseason four times. But he has never gone deep against Willis.
In seven career plate appearances against Willis, Bonds has singled once and walked four times. Willis did strike Bonds out the last time they faced each other on Aug. 25, 2004, but the two stars have not crossed paths since. Willis said he hopes he doesn't become the 445th pitcher to give up a homer to Bonds.
Willis has another worry other than Bonds on Saturday night. The two-time All-Star has lost a career seven straight decisions and has not won in 10 appearances since beating the Cubs on May 29.