SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Bonds expects a good reception at AT&T Park this weekend, and he reiterated several times during a media session Friday that this is his home and a place he loves. For one weekend, though, Bonds will gladly settle into the visiting dugout.
“I respect the Giants and I’ll root for them when I leave, but I’m not going to root for them now,” Bonds said. “I don’t want them to beat us.”
The first-year hitting coach comes to San Francisco with a team that needs a breakout even more than this slumping Giants lineup does. The Marlins are 5-9 and have scored just 55 runs, good for 13th in the National League. They have scored 25 fewer runs than the Giants, who are coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of the Diamondbacks, but Bonds’ first year as a coach has been viewed as a success.
He is said to be well-liked and hard-working, and he made a point Friday of saying that this job is not one he’s easing into. Over and over again, Bonds said some version of, “I take my job seriously.” He said he will scream and yell when he needs to, but his main focus is being there for his hitters.
“I know the struggles of the game and I know the successes of the game,” Bonds said. “I’m in it with you, that’s how I want to be.”
Bonds was in the cage with Marlins before talking to the media and he headed back there when he was done talking. He wants the focus this weekend to be on the Marlins, and it was for that reason that Bonds declined an offer from the Giants to honor him in some way upon his return.
Larry Baer had offered to put Bonds on the Wall of Fame at AT&T Park, but Bonds said that plan will be better executed down the line.
“We had a talk about that and he wanted to do something,” Bonds said. “I felt it wouldn’t be the right time. It would be something kind of weird. My boss is Jeffrey (Loria, the Marlins owner) and I want to respect him and the Marlins.”
Bonds anticipated something getting done in future years. He also said he does expect the Giants to eventually let someone wear his No. 25, even though Mike Murphy has steadfastly refused to give it out since Bonds was done on the field.
Bonds, 51, played his final 15 big league seasons for the Giants, winning four consecutive MVP awards at one point and breaking the all-time home run record. A PED cloud and perjury case kept him out of the game for several years, but he would show up at AT&T Park on occasion, sitting in the same section between the plate and the Giants dugout.
Bonds returned to the organization in 2014 as a spring training instructor, and his stint in camp went well. He stopped by the clubhouse several times that season and occasionally was seen on the field, but the Giants simply didn’t have the kind of role on the coaching staff that Bonds was seeking. Hensley Meulens has been the hitting coach through three World Series titles, and the Giants led the league in batting average last season.
In a surprise move, Bonds turned up in Miami.
“It’s good to see him back in baseball,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I know he’s doing what he wants to do. He’s got a passion for it. It’s good for him that there’s a spot for him. I’m sure he’ll do a great job there.”
The Giants will get an up-close view of Bonds’ new projects this weekend, and Bonds is hoping it goes well. He seemed happy to put that “welcome back” media session behind him and get back to the cage, even if it was the one behind the visiting dugout. Even in a Marlins jersey and hat, he seemed right at home back at AT&T Park.
“It doesn’t feel weird at all,” Bonds said. “I feel grateful here. This is the place where I started my whole entire life. My Little League, this whole town, I don’t really feel weird."