AT&T PARK — Speaking after the San Francisco Giants’ annual media open house on Wednesday afternoon, club CEO Larry Baer provided an in-depth look at the process of bringing Barry Bonds back to the Orange and Black.
“We’ve been talking on and off over the last several years,” said Baer, who officially hired Bonds as one of his special assistants on March 21. “Most guys, the year that they stop playing, they don’t want to [get back in] after all those years of road trips they like to maybe take some downtime.
“So, if you remember in ’08 — his last year of playing was ’07 — he wanted to play. Then things kind of went to legal issues. And then in the back of his mind I think he always thought about maybe being a hitting coach, and so, we had a hitting coach who was one we really liked, so that wasn’t available here. So, he went and did that in Miami.”
“After that, it was sort of like, ‘Look, I love what Willie [Mays] does, my godfather. He comes. He does things with speaking and the community and makes appearances. And when Willie was younger he was helping guys in the clubhouse. He still goes down to the clubhouse.’ Barry said, ‘I’d like to do that kind of a thing.’ And it was like, ‘Perfect. We’d love you to do it.’”
“The young players, they grew up watching Barry play — not Willie, obviously. So, it just all kind of fit. Before it didn’t really fit because Barry wasn’t sure if he wanted to be on the field, be a coach, a full-time coach. I think he also expressed an appreciation to work with the minor leaguers. Really, that’s a part of what he’s going to do. He’s going to go to at least three minor league trips a year.”
As part of his return to the team, Bonds will be added to the Wall of Fame on the King Street side of AT&T Park during a ceremony at a yet-to-be announced date.
Bonds’ first task with the Giants was to work with the club in spring training, and Baer has liked what he’s seen from his new special assistant so far.
“He’s great. People just want to be around him,” Baer said. “He’s such a part of our history. It was tough having these years of separation, but it wasn’t like we were angry with each other — we just couldn’t figure out the role. He’d come to the games. We couldn’t figure out, ‘What’s the role?’”
Bonds’ exit from the Miami Marlins — after just one season as the team’s hitting coach — set the stage for his return.
“The time was right. I think in his own mind, he said, ‘I don’t want to be a full-time major league coach — at least not now.’ He had too much to do in life and so this role is — we have a number of days he’s at the park for events, a number of days he’s doing stuff in the community for us and a number of days he’s going to visit the minor leaguers — it’s just kind of perfect.”Barry BondsLarry BaerMLBSan Francisco Giants