Chris Carlson / AP

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, left, listens as former player Barry Bonds speaks at a news conference before a spring training baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Monday, March 10, 2014. Bonds starts a seven day coaching stint today.

Barry Bonds back in Giants uniform as spring training instructor

Published: Monday, Mar. 10, 2014 - 1:42 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Mar. 10, 2014 - 10:04 pm

SCOTTSDALE -- Ba rry Bonds walked into the Giants clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium shortly after 9 a.m. Monday morning, shaking hands and introducing himself to current players, many of whom he’ll be working with over the next week as an instructor in the team’s spring training camp.

Afterward, Bonds held a nearly 30-minute news conference with about 50 reporters, in which he said he’ll be in camp for seven days. He was listed on the Giants’ schedule on Monday as a roving instructor along with former teammate Rich Aurilia.

"It feels really good to be back," Bonds said. "It feels good to participate in this. It feels good to get back to the game that I love. I’m going to have a lot of fun doing this."

Bonds quickly stated his message to current Giants players: "Hopefully I’ll be a part of this for longer, but in seven days, please do not hesitate. All you guys, from the younger guys to the veteran players, come pick my brain and wear me down for seven days."

Bonds was engaging and laughed often during the news conference, in which he sat next to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, whom Bonds said was instrumental in organizing his return. Bochy said the Giants reached out to Bonds about returning as an instructor as they do with many of their past players.

"We’re excited about having Barry here, who can help out in so many different aspects of the game," Bochy said. "Not just hitting -- this guy was a tremendous baserunner, outfielder, so I think it’s going to be good for both sides. Good for Barry to see how this is going to work for him, but for our players to have the ability to pick, to me, one of the greatest minds in baseball."

Monday morning was Bonds’ first time wearing a Giants uniform since his career came to an end at the finish of the 2007 season. He passed Hank Aaron on the all-time home run leaderboard that year, finishing with 762 home runs in his 22-year career in which he also won seven Most Valuable Player awards.

Bonds exited the game after 2007 but not the spotlight. In 2011, Bonds was convicted by a federal jury of one count of obstruction of justice, stemming from an investigation into BALCO and suspicions that Bonds had used steroids during his playing career. Last year, a federal appeals court upheld the conviction, for which Bonds was sentenced to two years’ probation and 30 days of house arrest.

Monday, Bonds steered away from controversial topics in addressing reporters. Asked if he was prepared to admit he had used performance-enhancing drugs, as former A’s and Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire did before returning to baseball as hitting coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bonds said: "I already went to court, and that’s where I’ll leave it. And I think anything outside that doesn’t need to be commented on."

Asked if he feels he was blackballed from baseball after the 2007 season, Bonds said: "I don’t know. I don’t know what blackballed really means."

Bonds also declined to discuss the suspension of Alex Rodriguez and recent investigation into the Biogenesis clinic. He was, however, direct when asked if he feels he should be in the Hall of Fame.

"Without a doubt," Bonds said.

Bonds received 34.7 percent of votes in the most recent Hall of Fame balloting, well below the 75-percent threshold required for election. He demurred when given the chance to share his advice to Hall of Fame voters.

"I think you guys are all adults," Bonds said. "I have no advice for you."

The Giants are hoping he’ll have plenty for their current players this week, though Bonds admitted he’s unsure how he will adapt to an instructor role. In recent years, Bonds said, he has worked individually with a couple players, including former Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler, but this is a new role for him.

Upon arriving Monday morning, Bonds greeted several players including Hunter Pence and Ryan Vogelsong. He looked slim and fit, the result of a newfound love of cycling, and said he has moved back to San Francisco because "It’s my home and I love it."

Several times, Bonds was asked if this is the first step toward his getting back into baseball in a larger role, possibly as a coach or, eventually, a manager. He said he does hope to help the Giants in a larger role in the future -- something Bochy left open as a possibility for this season -- but that a lot will depend on how this week goes.

As for whether coming back now is an opportunity to repair his image in a game that he dominated for years before becoming one of the poster children for its biggest problem, Bonds answered: "I don’t know about all that.

"I just, the timing’s better now for me," Bonds said. "Back then it just wasn’t right. Right now the timing’s just better. There’s a lot behind me now, and I just want to look toward the future, that’s all."


Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara



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