New York — The question was a simple one. What do you expect when Barry Bonds comes to town? Mets' closer Billy Wagner considered it for a moment, rolling it over in his mind.

New York — The question was a simple one. What do you expect when Barry Bonds comes to town? Mets' closer Billy Wagner considered it for a moment, rolling it over in his mind.

"Bonds?" he replied, as if trying to place the name. "Young kid? Kid's in for a good experience if he hasn't been to New York. They'll accept him."

Sarcasm and humor come in handy. Laughing to keep from crying. Wagner knows Bonds well — likes him even, one of the few people in the game who will admit to that. But he also knows, like his fellow pitchers, that there are few good answers on how to get Bonds out.

Bonds and the Giants arrive at Shea Stadium today — thankfully for the Mets, who would rather avoid the whole home run chase fuss — still far enough shy of Hank Aaron's all-time home run record to avoid some of the pressure.

The Mets have mostly dismissed the debates about Bonds — trying to push away the "did he or didn't he" question regarding steroids. The pressure that they can't avoid though is figuring out how to handle Bonds — which mostly means trying to keep him in the ballpark.

Earlier this month when the Mets and Giants met in San Francisco, Bonds homered just once — a solo shot off Tom Glavine. It was his only hit in the series as he was 1-for-8 with five walks against the Mets.

The home run off Glavine was the fourth of Bonds' career against the likely Hall-of-Famer in 82 at-bats. The rest of the Mets' staff has surrendered just three home runs in 84 at-bats. Of the starters for this series, Oliver Perez, Glavine and Orlando Hernandez, Glavine is the only one he has connected against.

Bonds, who had not homered in 43 at-bats since that May 8 homer against Glavine before finally launching No. 746 Sunday, has been reborn this year after struggling with injuries last season. Sunday's blast was his 12th of the season.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters over the weekend that Bonds likely would sit out tonight's game — which might be a fitting day to rest since Perez has handled him, limiting him to just one single in nine at-bats with four walks and four strikeouts.

In three plate appearances against El Duque, Bonds has walked twice and singled. Against Glavine, he sports a .329 average with 16 walks and 10 strikeouts.

The common denominator for all of the Mets' pitchers has been in their approach — trying to stay with their own style rather than try to change for Bonds.

"I don't change," Hernandez said. "I do my job. If you change, you have no chance."

"I think I try to incorporate the things that I do well, but based on the information we have in terms of how we're trying to get him out," Glavine said.

"I'm not going to start throwing cutters and sliders every pitch, because that's not what I do well. I'll try to attack in certain ways based on what I do well."

Part of that approach is based on something that is more attitude than any type of pitch and that attitude comes from the manager, who refuses to let his team give in.

"We don't deviate too much — just make sure we respect what he can do," Willie Randolph said. "Whether it's Bonds or Albert Pujols or anyone else, you don't want those kind of guys to hurt you. But I've preached since Day 1 to have my players, my pitchers, have confidence in executing a pitch.

"You try not to be afraid of people. You obviously know where he is and when he's coming up. Just like with Billy Wagner last year. People talk about, 'Should you walk him?'

"Billy Wagner is one of the best closers in the game. What are you saying to your closer when you tell him he can't get out one of the best hitters in the game? That's the way I look at it. If he's sizzling hot, one of those grooves he gets in, we might do it. But I like my players to compete and not be afraid to challenge people."

It is easier said than done. Glavine said that the homer he gave up this year came on a bad pitch, but one of the most astounding things about Bonds is that he never misses on those mistakes.

"It was a bad pitch by me," Glavine said. "There again, it could have been a pitch that he easily popped up or hit a single on. He didn't. He got his pitch and hit a home run."

So for a few days the Mets will try to avoid adding to his total — trying to avoid the home run and avoid a place in the debate that will accompany Bonds every step of the way to the all-time mark.

"It's no dilemma for me," Glavine said. "If it happens, it happens. I guess as a fan of the game you have a certain level of respect for what Barry's been able to do as a player.

"The dilemma for the game, I don't know. I guess that's something that will have to be figured out and we'll see how it's figured out. I'm of the mind-set that Barry hasn't been found guilty of anything yet and until he is, you have to honor and respect what he's been able to do."