Barry Bonds reported to San Francisco Giants camp on Monday for a week or so as a guest hitting instructor and he drew a crowd.
“It feels really good to be back,” Bonds told CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. “It feels really good to participate. I’m really going to enjoy it.”
The plan is to have Bonds, Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in home runs, to work with the team’s younger hitters on an unpaid basis.
Of all the players linked to baseball’s “steroid era,” Bonds is the most polarizing, probably because he is also the most accomplished.
It’s the first time Bonds has been in uniform since his playing career faded away after his contract expired in 2007. He still hasn’t officially retired, but at 49, it’s doubtful he’ll be back on the field in any other capacity than as an instructor or a coach.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have the bravado he carried almost as a weapon as a player, telling manager Bruce Bochy he could still hit one out if given the chance.
Because the media spent so much time telling us that Bonds was public enemy No. 1, even as players in every other sport imaginable were doing the same thing he was doing, there are many fans out there who believe Bonds should never be allowed a spot in the game or in the Hall of Fame.
It’s a touchy subject, to be sure, a point illustrated by the comments board on just about every story that includes his name.
I don’t advocate cheating, but at the same time, I live in the real world—there was a lot of it going on and we will never have a true accounting of just how prevalent it was (or is, for that matter).
If the game can find a place for Mark McGwire as a hitting coach, there certainly should be room for Barry Bonds.