Editor's note: The above video is from the Jan. 6 edition of SportsTalk Live.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Since returning to the Giants as a spring training instructor in 2014, Barry Bonds has made quite a few appearances at AT&T Park. He watched games in his regular seat on an aisle behind home plate, but he would also slip into the clubhouse or stand behind the cage during batting practice.
When Bonds is at a ballpark next season, however, he’ll be about as far away from San Francisco as you can get in Major League Baseball.
The seven-time MVP was officially announced as the new hitting coach for the Miami Marlins on Friday, giving Bonds a high-profile role for the first time since his playing days. Why isn’t Bonds returning to the dugout as a Giant? According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea, Bonds said the Marlins job was “the only opportunity that was presented to me.”
“I’m excited to be here with the Marlins,” Bonds said on a conference call, per Shea. “I just want to let everyone in San Francisco know that I love them a lot. This is my home. This is where I’m from. But this is the opportunity that came up for me.”
When Bonds decided to return to the game full-time, the Giants simply didn’t have a position available. Hitting coach Hensley Meulens is considered one of the best in the game, and assistant Steve Decker is well-respected and popular with younger players.
Bonds got the top job in Miami, and he’ll be assisted by former A’s infielder Frank Menechino. The Giants didn’t have any issues with bringing Bonds back into the MLB family in 2014, but they’re doing just fine on their staff. Under Meulens, the Giants led the National League in average (.267) last season and also paced the league in advanced statistics like weighted runs created plus (wRC+) and offensive WAR. You can argue they’ll have the best lineup in the National League in 2016, and the staff has helped many young players -- like Brandon Crawford and Matt Duffy -- outperform expectations.
Bonds was a splashy choice when he returned to the Giants as a spring training instructor and several players -- most notably Michael Morse, a slugging left fielder -- took full advantage of their week with the all-time home run leader. Others quietly noted that Bonds didn’t seem fully committed at the time to the grind of helping every hitter in an organization. He addressed those concerns Friday.
“It’s easy to walk in for a day and say, 'OK, hi, I’m Barry Bonds, and I’ve done this' and get their attention for a minute. But what can you fix in a day? What can you fix in two days?” Bonds said, according to Shea. “But me being there day in and day out, I think I bring a lot to the table for them. That’s the only way I’m going to find out. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if I’m going to be good at this or not. I’m not making promises. One thing is, I will be dedicated to it. I will be there for them, and I will be the best I can for them, but I need to be in the trenches with them to make it happen.”
That commitment will at least for now link Bonds to an organization that isn’t based in the Bay Area. Scheduling issues kept Bonds from being a spring instructor in 2015, but the Giants had hoped to bring him back into the fold in a different role. Team president and CEO Larry Baer said in March that the Giants hoped to have Bonds contribute in a more comprehensive role, similar to the one taken on by Willie Mays and Will Clark.
“It would be along the lines of some of our other former great players, who do things with sponsors, fans and the team, where possible,” Baer told CSN Bay Area. “I think there’s a desire to see if we can put something together.”
There was also thought that Bonds could finally have his number put on the club’s Wall of Fame, but that didn’t happen during the season. With Bonds officially back in the game, the Giants could try to set something up for next season.
Bonds and the Marlins come to town April 22.