VIERA, FL. — In 1992 the San Francisco Giants made two key additions that would quickly change the course of their franchise. They hired 44-year-old Dusty Baker as a rookie manager and signed free agent outfielder Barry Bonds.
The Giants won 103 games in the 1993 season, their first year together. They would later win the NL pennant in 2002, their 10th and final year together in the Bay Area.
Now 14 years after that World Series run in San Francisco, they are competitors in the coaching ranks with Baker managing the Washington Nationals and Bonds serving as hitting coach of the Miami Marlins. They will face off 19 times per season as counterparts in the NL East division.
Baker is happy his former player has returned to the game. He just wishes it wasn't with a team that the Nats play so often.
"I wish he went to the Yankees, to tell you the truth, and that he wasn't in the same division as us. I'm serious. I'm looking at some of those monsters over there and they don't need any help," Baker said.
Baker says that because he believes Bonds will be very good at his new job. Bonds won seven MVP awards and carried a batting average of .300 or higher 11 times.
Baker thinks those skills will translate to his coaching of the Marlins, who already boast an impressive lineup that features Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich.
"If he wants to be, he can be as good a coach as there is around because nobody sees things like Barry Bonds can see sometimes," Baker said. "Barry Bonds can pick up pitches better than anybody. It's a bit of a concern to me facing them with Barry Bonds over there."
Bonds' return to baseball has reignited the debate of whether he should be in the Hall of Fame. Suspicions of PED use have held him back from getting the necessary votes to be enshrined.
Bonds recently said he thinks he should be in the Hall of Fame and that most around the game feel the same way. Baker wants Bonds to get a fair chance.
"Barry Bonds helped put baseball back on the map big time. There's a lot of kids that grew up idolizing Barry Bonds, that are baseball fans because of Barry Bonds and some that are still playing baseball. I'm just hoping that he gets a shot and the opportunity," Baker said.