Barry Bonds returns to Giants, larger than life no longer <..."/> Barry Bonds returns to Giants, larger than life no longer <..."/>

Bay Area Buzz 3/11: Barry Bonds Is All The Buzz The Day After His Arrival At Giants Camp


Barry Bonds returns to Giants, larger than life no longer

"At 8:55 Monday morning,Barry Bonds arrived in the hallway of Scottsdale Stadium and ducked into the coaches’ locker room. A few minutes later – after clubhouse manager Mike Murphy took away one pair of pants and replaced them with a smaller pair – Bonds emerged in a Giants uniform.For the first time since the last day of the 2007 season.Is this the first step in an attempt to rehabilitate an image tarnished by a steroids scandal, a felony conviction and a career’s worth of nastiness?“I don’t know about all that,” he said. “The timing is better now for me. Back then, it just wasn’t right. There’s a lot behind me.”Such as his prolonged legal battle. Bonds was found guilty of one count of obstruction of justice, lost an appeal, paid a fine, served 30 days of house arrest and – while he continues an appeal to have the charge erased from his record – has mostly resolved his issues.Now he would like to get back into baseball’s good graces. Monday felt like turn-back-the-clock day at Giants camp. There was Bonds in orange and black. There were throngs of media members lining the hall, a rope serving as a barricade, Pedro Gomez and his ESPN camera set up on the field.But, in significant ways, things were different. Bonds arrived without a posse. He was much skinnier than the last time he was in uniform. Media members were tweeting, something that was in its infancy when Bonds was playing and a sign of just how long ago that was. And the young, loose Giants clubhouse is a vastly different place from the one that Bonds ruled.‘A different character’Bonds was different, too. A few months shy of his 50th birthday, he put on the charm. Answered questions with a smile. Laughed easily. The former surly persona, one that Bonds described as simply a “character” he donned while playing, was absent.“I was a different character,” he said. “I needed that guy to play. That’s who I was at the time. It’s not who I am now.”Bonds is in camp for one week as a special hitting instructor. Nobody on the Giants side, or Bonds himself, was willing to look any further.“I don’t even know if I’m good at it,” Bonds said.But in the six seasons that have elapsed since he left the game, Bonds has been tarnished as the headliner of the steroids era. He has seen Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens – two other former superstars who have been under intense scrutiny – get coaching jobs. Former Giants third baseman Matt Williams, who was named in the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs, is now a manager. If their images can be rehabilitated, why not Bonds’?Bonds was asked if he would admit to using steroids, as McGwire tearfully did in 2010.“I already went to court, and that’s where I’ll leave it,” said Bonds, whose legal team has probably advised him not to admit to anything.The Hall of Fame might be his endgame, though he didn’t overtly lobby.“You guys are all adults,” he said to voters. “I have no advice for you.”Except maybe this: When asked if he belonged in Cooperstown, he responded, “Without a doubt.”Bonds has always been his own entity, governed by different rules. While it might be tempting to note a racial imbalance between the men who have been welcomed back to baseball and those on the outside, the truth is Bonds simply never had many advocates or friends in the game.That, awkwardly, was on display Monday. Bonds addressed his manager as “Bochy” time and again, making one wonder if he even remembered that the man’s first name is Bruce. When asked what he missed about the game, Bonds didn’t respond the way 99.9 percent of all former athletes do, by saying “the guys” or “the camaraderie.” Instead, Bonds cited workouts and routine. Which was probably wise, because any reminiscing about old pals and fun times would have rung false."

–Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle

Barry Bonds like we’ve never seen him

"Say what you want about Barry Bonds, but he’s got great teeth.Maybe I didn’t notice because he’s never smiled as much as he did Monday. At a news conference to kick off his stint as a guest hitting coach at Giants camp, Bonds had morphed from renowned jerk to giggly middle-aged man. It was like Darth Vader after a spa day.It was weird to watch, even a little uncomfortable, yet riveting. Because Bonds is anything but contrite.People are waiting for him to confess his crimes, but he didn’t. This seemed to be the perfect opportunity for him to turn on the waterworks and exude the remorse public opinion requires. Not even close.Instead he smiled. Incessantly. His perfect teeth reflecting a purity his persona never accomplished.With each grin, through warm eyes and a soft, inviting voice, Bonds announced he has achieved an inner peace. He came off as one who has found happiness and joy and fulfillment. But in typical Bonds fashion, he’s done so on his own terms and without permission or approval.“I was a different character when I was playing,” he said. “Now I’ve had time to slow down. We all do, as you’re gone for a while you have a tendency to reflect on certain things. I needed that guy to play. I needed him. It was who I was, but it’s not who I am now on a day-to-day basis. I’m the same person, just a different character. I’m more in the middle. I can still be crazy, but I’ve calmed down.”Maybe he was smiling so much because he has actually changed. It has been seven years. That was enough time for him to slim down his bulky physique, which once made the batter’s box look like hopscotch. It’s certainly enough time to reflect, read a few books and soul search.Or maybe Bonds is smiling so much because he has gotten what he wanted — to get back in baseball — without sacrificing what he deems to be his dignity. A great franchise, which he loves dearly, extended welcoming arms (with a chance to stick around longer) and he didn’t have to dampen his cheeks in front of Bryant Gumbel.Bonds declined — politely — to talk about PEDs or felony convictions or the pronounced scuff he left on baseball. Yet he’s moved on. Confession is good for the soul, the saying goes. But Bonds just proclaimed to the nation his soul is doing quite fine.Maybe he has confessed, just not to those who want it the most. That’s going to bother many, which may be another reason he was smiling so much.Even in turning over a new leaf, he’s still the same ol’ Bonds."

–Marcus Thompson II, San Jose Mercury News

Could Giants gig open more doors for Bonds?

"If there was ever a baseball purgatory, Barry Lamar Bonds had a 6 1/2-year lease on a one-bedroom, one-bath duplex in it.He was essentially sent there after the 2007 season by the Giants, for whom he helped fill the seats in their first seven seasons at AT&T Park.No matter if the Giants were headed for the World Series or finishing last in the National League West, the ballpark was filled to near capacity for each game, and viewers at home stopped to watch as Bonds swung for the fences. Bonds, however, had become the poster child of the Steroid Era. Not that what he allegedly did was more or less than what others did to gain an edge, his star just shone brighter.By the final year of his contract in 2007, when Bonds passed Hank Aaron to become baseball’s all-time home run king with 762 dingers, the heat that came with the cash was too much for the Giants to take.The Giants, along with every other baseball club, turned their backs on Bonds, who still possessed the ability and desire to play.After 6 1/2 years and two World Series championships, it was the right move, the right time for the Giants to welcome Bonds back Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., where the game’s only seven-time N.L. MVP will serve this week as a special instructor."

 –Victor Contreras, Sacramento Bee