SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Barry Bonds is on Twitter and Instagram, but he said the only social media app he truly embraces is Strava, a network for running and cycling enthusiasts. You can keep track of his passion for cycling there, Bonds said, and it’s never hard to know where he’s been or where he’s headed.
The Giants hope that app shows frequent rides to AT&T Park for years to come. A day after he was announced as a special advisor to CEO Larry Baer, Bonds officially joined the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium.
“It’s my home,” he said. “I want to be back at home. I want to help our community, our team, San Francisco, the Giants, the younger guys and younger players. You keep the tradition alive. It’s the same thing my father has done, my godfather has done, (Willie McCovey) has done. It’s the right thing to do. I’m in San Francisco, raised there, and I want to help our community kids become Giants, and good ones.”
The process started Wednesday, with Bonds kicking off a weeklong run as an instructor. In his opening hours, he made it clear that this is what his passion is, seemingly closing the door on another stint in a more involved role. His time as Marlins hitting coach lasted just one year, and Bonds said he “likes this role better.”
“I want to help out the whole organization,” he said. “I want to help the younger guys that are coming up through the organization and the guys who are here in the organization. I like this role better, to stand with the coaches. I’m here for whatever Bam Bam (Meuelens) wants me to do. If he wants me to do something or he thinks there’s a player I can talk to, I go based on that.”
Bonds said he took the job in Miami because he felt that was what his father would want him to do. “You go in the dungeon with everyone else,” Bonds said. He said he’s grateful that the Marlins gave him the opportunity, and while the reviews were mixed, Bonds found some highlights in his time there. He said Wednesday that he took part in a hitting contest one day because the team opposing Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich needed one more bat. Bonds and Stanton, currently the most powerful player in baseball, tied in home runs. Bonds, the all-time home run king, won in a tiebreaker round.
“If you challenge me,” Bonds said, smiling, “You will lose.”
Hundreds of pitchers found that out over his 22 seasons in the big leagues. Bonds holds Major League records with 762 career homers and 73 in one season, and he retired with a .444 on-base percentage, 2,935 hits, 1,996 RBI and 514 stolen bases. He is a 14-time All-Star and seven-time National League MVP, but his Hall of Fame candidacy has been dogged by a steroid cloud that has kept other sluggers of his era from induction. Bonds made progress last year, getting to 53.8 percent, but he has only five more years to bridge the gap to 75 percent. Asked about the Hall of Fame results on Wednesday, Bonds said he doesn’t have any answers that are different than what he’s said in the past.
“To keep talking about it doesn’t do any good,” he said.
At AT&T Park, there’s no doubt about the level of support Bonds will receive. He remains wildly popular, and his return to the organization is expected to be followed in short order by a Wall of Fame ceremony and the retiring of the No. 25. At some point, Bonds is expected to get a statue outside the park.
For now, he’ll focus on being an ambassador and instructor. He said he will attend the annual Play Ball Luncheon later this month and any other events the Giants put on his schedule. He lives within walking — or biking — distance of the ballpark, and said he can be in the clubhouse in under 10 minutes if his assistance is needed. If the Giants ask him to visit Double-A Richmond or Low-A Augusta, he's up for it.
“Sometimes you need to get away from the game as a player and regroup and think about all that’s gone on and what’s gone on around you,” he said. “You need time to mature and realize what’s best for you, and I’ve been away now for quite some time. I had the opportunity to coach the Marlins and stuff, and I really feel like this is what I’m supposed to do.”