SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Before there can be a statue of Barry Bonds at AT&T Park, there had to be a trial balloon.
It’s going up in two weeks.
In what amounts to a small but significant renewal of vows, Bonds will join the Giants as a special instructor later this spring. He’ll arrive in Scottsdale on March 7 or 8 and spend a week counseling players, offering hitting tips and acting on orders from Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
It’s no different than the role played by Jeff Kent, Robb Nen, J.T. Snow, Randy Winn and other former Giants stars who drop in to Scottsdale. Kent arrived a few days ago and has been working with middle infielders on turning the double-play pivot.
But none of those guys are baseball’s all-time home run leader. None of them were at the center of a performance-enhancing drug scandal that rocked the sport. None of them were targets of a federal investigation that resulted, after almost a decade of prosecution, in a felony conviction on one charge of obstruction.
There wasn’t a doubt the day would come when Bonds would be a Giant again. It was a matter of when and how -- and what the reaction would be.
The time is this spring, as Alex Pavlovic of the Bay Area News Group first reported.
Bonds has served his month of home confinement, and while he is continuing to appeal his conviction (felons cannot own firearms, and Bonds is a hunting enthusiast), his legal issues have become sufficiently disentangled that the Giants have deemed a reunion appropriate.
I’m told that Bonds won’t be paid for this guest instructor stint, outside of the standard per diem and travel costs. Bonds reached out last year to several club officials about coming to Scottsdale; he attended at least two games last season and also saw club officials -- including CEO Larry Baer and GM Brian Sabean -- at a charity event benefiting The Guardsmen this winter.
What about the 10-year personal services contract that was part of Bonds’ last multiyear extension with the club? It had been put on hold, and open to renegotiation, while Bonds dealt with federal prosecution. And I’m told it’s still on hold. The contract, which calls for the Bonds Family Foundation to be paid $1 million per year, isn’t kicking in yet.
This is just a weeklong stint. It’s just a trial balloon. It’s a chance for Bonds and the Giants to cozy up to one another again.
They can figure out where to put the statue later.