The following piece of puffery comes from’s Barry Bloom aka the guy who writes acceptable press releases with Barry Bonds’ hand up his ass.

There evidently is more to this relationship between Barry Bonds and Barry Zito than meets the eye. Zito said this spring that he asked to locker near the left-handed slugger for better reasons than to one day tell his grandchildren about it.

“I’m certainly going to protect Barry,” Zito said. “He’d protect me at whatever cost. I’ve learned that in the short time I’ve been around him.

“I know all these beat writers. With me there, they won’t be able to attack him as they would if they had Barry alone. They know they may have to answer to me, or might feel repercussions regarding interviews now. If he wanted me to blackball somebody, I’d probably do it.”

Those are heady words, and they have never been spoken about Bonds by a teammate, particularly one of the stature of Zito, who is a former American League Cy Young Award winner. As a free agent this past offseason, the southpaw signed a seven-year, $126 million contract, making him the highest paid pitcher in Major League Baseball history.

“He’s a terrific dude,” Bonds said when told that Zito was prepared to cover his back this season.

Bonds hit his first HR of the spring earlier today, a 4th inning solo shot off Oakland’s Esteban Loiaza, and the Giants currently lead the A’s, 3-2, after 5 innings.

While Carlos Beltran hit a 2-run HR off Kenny Rogers in the Mets’ 9-5 loss to the Tigers, Shawn Green — playing first base — had a pair of hits to raise his Grapefruit League average to .158. John Maine struck out 3 in 3 scoreless innnings, while Phillip Humber (3 earned runs, 2 walks, 2 hits, 2 IP) and Aaron Heilman (4 earned runs, 3 hits, 2 walks in an inning’s work) struggled. Most importantly, however, Gary Cohen informed us that Ruben Sierra is wearing all white this month as a tribute to his mother’s improving health. In solidarity with Ruben, I’m going to do the same.