New special instructor Barry Bonds wasted little time getting involved on his first day in camp, hovering around the cage while the Giants took batting practice Monday morning and holding brief conversations with a few players.
Bonds’ interactions with players figure to be more in-depth as the week progresses. For Day One, Giants catcher Buster Posey said his talk with Bonds involved “just small things, working on balance as much as anything.
“He’s arguably one of the best hitters that ever played, so getting the chance to pick his brain would be good,” Posey said. “There’s not a whole lot you can talk about in 10 minutes.”
Manager Bruce Bochy said that after a morning news conference, he introduced Bonds to the team and encouraged players to approach the former slugger for advice. Bochy said Bonds will be with the hitters during batting practice and otherwise roam around “just helping players” while in camp.
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Rather than address hitters in group settings, Bonds said he intends to talk with them individually.
“I take what’s in front of me,” he said. “I don’t have one strategy. Every person’s built different, every hitter’s different, and every teaching (lesson) would be different.”
Bonds, who had a reputation for being aloof as a player, said Monday that persona was “a different character” and that “I needed that guy to play.” He said he’s more relaxed these days.
“It’s like you have this guy over here that’s crazy and you have this guy over here that’s not. I’m more in the middle,” Bonds said. “I can still be crazy. But I’m a lot calmer.”
Right-hander Matt Cain, one of a handful of current Giants who were around for Bonds’ final season in 2007, said he never had an issue talking with Bonds or asking for advice and that he’d encourage the young players in camp to do the same.
“It’s going to be great for these guys to sit there and talk to him,” Cain said. “He was a tremendous hitter, and it’s kind of a different role for him to see if he can kind of relay that on to some of these guys. It’ll be a huge benefit if he’s able to do it.”
As for the large media contingent that accompanied Bonds’ arrival Monday, Cain said that was nothing new, either.
“It just became a zoo, like normal,” Cain said. “If you want to get TV time, just go near him. That’s normal.”
Et cetera – Cain started against the Chicago Cubs and threw five perfect innings in the Giants’ 3-2 loss on Monday. The right-hander, who struck out seven, has allowed just one hit in eight innings this spring.
“He’s really sharp,” Bochy said.
Cain said he was pleased Monday with how he put away hitters on two-strike counts – an issue for him at times last season that he attributed to “bad location.” The Giants’ top four starters – Ryan Vogelsong excepted – have thrown 23 Cactus League innings without a run allowed. Cain also collected his first hit, a single off Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija.
• Left-hander David Huff made his spring debut after battling shoulder issues and allowed a run on two hits in one inning. Acquired from the New York Yankees for cash this offseason, Huff is competing for the long-relief role.
• Brandon Crawford returned to the lineup after missing two games for the birth of his second child. Hunter Pence (elbow) also returned and doubled in three at-bats.
A’s notes – Andre Ethier hit a three-run homer and Juan Uribe added a solo shot in the first inning off Oakland’s Jarrod Parker as the Los Angeles Dodgers and A’s played to an 8-8 tie in Glendale, Ariz.
Parker allowed four hits and struck out five in 42/3 innings.
“I got a little more aggressive,” Parker said. “I got comfortable, and so I was able to move the ball around, get to my changeup, throw it for a strike and finish when I needed to.”
Josh Donaldson and Michael Taylor homered for the A’s.
• Parker is considered the leading candidate to start the opener on March 31 against Cleveland in Oakland. Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray also are possibilities. Parker said he’d love to start but isn’t worried about it.
“I’m working to get ready for the season, no matter when I pitch,” he said. “As long as I’m healthy and good to go ... ”
• A’s shortstop Addison Russell injured his right hamstring running out a grounder to third base in the eighth inning and left the field on a cart.