SCOTTSDALE — Barry Lamar Bonds is back.
The all-time home run leader reported to the Giants Spring Training camp on Monday morning to begin his week as a guest hitting instructor.
Back in February, Bonds reached out to the team, asking if he could come to camp to help the hitters and offer advice, and the Giants agreed.
After seven years away from the clubhouse, how did Bonds feel being back in the black and orange?
“It feels really good to be back. It feels good to participate in this. It feels good to give back to the game that I love, and I’m gonna have a lot of fun doing this.”
The Giants great has had a rocky road getting back with a major league ball club. After being the biggest suspected user of steroids use in the latter half of his career, Bonds retired without much fanfare or well-wishes from the Giants organization.
Over the last seven years, he’s been in and out of court battling charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Bonds recently served his sentence — 30 days of house arrest — for the obstruction charge, but is now a free man. That was a big reason why the Giants front office decided to let Bonds come back and help out.
Bonds says that Bochy was also a big advocate for the former outfielder, welcoming him back to the clubhouse:
“I wanna thank Bochy because this wouldn’t be possible without him. I’ve gotta thank the Giants organization for bringing me back, but most of all, Bochy in being the manager. I just want to thank you for your approval of this.”
The Giants skipper sang Bonds’ praises and recognizes the wisdom that Bonds will bring to his players:
“I know in Barry we have a great mind here that I know has so much to offer to our players, whether veterans or young, up-and-coming players. We’re all gonna enjoy this week and the use of his knowledge … We’re very excited to have Barry back in camp here.”
Despite only being in camp for a short while, Bonds hopes to have a big impact on the San Francisco lineup:
“For all the players that are here, right now I’m only here for seven days. Hopefully I’ll be a part of this for longer, but for seven days, please do not hesitate. All of you guys, from the younger guys to the veteran players, come pick my brain wear me down for seven days at least. And hopefully you get to wear me down a lot longer.”
Returning to the Giants isn’t the only change for Bonds lately. He recently moved back to San Francisco from the South Bay:
“It’s my home, and I love it. And that’s where I belong.”
Bonds also says that he’s a different character now than he was when he was playing the game. Always known as a “villain,” Bonds says that his strained relationship with the media is something that he regrets:
“I was a different character playing. Now I’ve had time to slow down, do other things … I think as you’re gone for awhile, you have a tendency to reflect on certain things, but I needed that guy to play … it’s who I was at the time. It’s not who I am in my day-to-day life…I can still be crazy, but it’s toned down a little bit.”
So now that he’s back and ready to help, what does Barry hope to bring to the Giants line-up? He says that being consistent is the best thing a player can be.
When talking about Brandon Belt or Pablo Sandoval, Bonds noted that they have the skills and power that they need, they just have to work on their consistency:
“Consistency is everything. There’s a lot of things that I simplify. I don’t think there’s a whole lot that you need to do. I think there’s little miniscule things that you need to change or little things you need to do, but you’re here for a reason.”
Bonds wasted no time diving in and embracing his new role. He spent time chatting up Giants players and offering his advice to Buster Posey, Angel Pagan, and Mike Morse during batting practice:
“I just want to see if I can bring some value to the team in seven days, or to the guys. You know, we’re all working towards the same thing.”
Was it bittersweet for Bonds to watch the Giants win in 2010 and 2012 after coming so close in 2002?
“No. I’m a Giant since my godfather in ’58 and my father. I’m not jealous over it. I’m happy. It’s my town, it’s my city, it’s my family … I was almost in tears because I was that happy. It’s been something that we’d been wanting for a long time.”
Now that he’s back in a Giants uniform, Bonds was all smiles on a sunny Monday morning.
Giants players were just as happy to pick his brain as he was happy to offer advice. Love him or hate him, he’ll bring a knowledge that’s rare and hard to find, and advice from Bonds should highly benefit this San Francisco line-up.
It’s going to be a good week in Scottsdale.