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Giants, Bonds discuss picking up '06 option

Days after hitting his 700th career home run, Barry Bonds may obtain another important number.

This one is $18-million as the Giants try to lock up Bonds through at least 2006.

The final year of his current five-year, $90-million contract kicks in if he reaches 500 plate appearances next season or 1,500 from 2003-05. But Bonds made it clear in spring training he wants the team to pick up the final year before next season. That could happen shortly after this season, or even sooner.

Giants executive vice president Larry Baer did not deny he has talked with Bonds about his contract.

"We talked about a lot of stuff," Baer said. "That's why this relationship has lasted 12 years. We're not always in 100 percent agreement, but the relationship has been good, and we've worked through the problems."

Baer wouldn't say whether the team would pick up the final year before the season ends.

JAPAN LEAGUE: Baseball returned to Japan after all weekend games were wiped out by the first players' strike in the sport's 70-year history there. All 12 games Saturday and Sunday were called off, leading to losses for teams estimated to be about $17-million. Players want owners to scrap a planned merger of the Pacific League teams Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes.

CUBS: Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, sidelined since Sept. 11 with a strained right groin, might return during the series in Pittsburgh beginning today.

EXPOS: Tim Raines is back with the team, joining the coaching staff for the rest of the season. Raines managed the Brevard County Manatees of the Florida State League this season.

RED SOX: Shortstop Orlando Cabrera is expected to miss two games to be with his wife, who will have surgery in Colombia. The team gave no details.

_ TIMES WIRES

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