Prolific hitter Barry Bonds makes his way back to baseball as a spring training instructor with the San Francisco Giants. The 49-year old Giant great is set to arrive the second week of March.
Bonds will be working with players on hitting. It is what he did best over the course of his career. He was with the Giants for 15 years and put up some of the most impressive numbers in baseball history. Here are the milestones; 762 home runs 73 in one season; he had a .444 career on base percentage and a .607 slugging percentage. The big issue is that most of the numbers came under the taint of performance enhancing drugs. Bonds failed numerous drug tests between 2000 and 2006, plus there was a mountain of evidence against him that was tremendous besides the failed test. It was a drama that played out in sports headlines for a better part of the year.
Several other key players in what has been known as the steroid era shared bonds legal struggles. Players like Raphael Palmerio, Sammy Sosa, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens. All of those players will face next to impossible odds of taking their place in Cooperstown to be part of the hall of fame. On the latest vote total Bonds only received 34.7 percent. That number dropped by almost 2 percent from the previous year. A player needs to have at least 5 percent to be included in the next year’s vote. Palmerio has already been left off. If that trend keeps going Bonds won’t be on the ballot for much longer. Not only is he statistically the greatest hitter of all time he also has amazing numbers for stolen bases with 514. He holds the record for walks in a season at 232 during the 2004 campaign.
What is interesting is that Bonds has been welcomed back to the Giants. They reached out to him for his services and he will join an all-star line up of former Giant greats as instructors. Will Clark, Jeff Kent, Robb Nen and J.T. Snow will join Bonds. Even though he may never enter the hall of fame, he is still a member of the baseball community in good standing. Mark McGwire is currently the hitting coach for the Dodgers and sources say he has made the most of his opportunity. The steroid era is a topic where there are some lines of division. It seems that baseball, coaches and general managers, are willing to let the past be the past. While the baseball writers, responsible for the hall of fame voting, hold on to the past and some would even say they hold grudges. However, for the Giants they are happy that Bonds is back in baseball and with their team.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledges that Bonds arrival may bring some added media scrutiny but that he does not expect a prolonged distraction. Bonds is still a favorite of the fans. He gets warm welcomes whenever he attends a game in San Francisco. Perhaps Bonds return to baseball will be a move that could see him back with the team permanently.
Editorial by Tony Bowers
San Francisco Chronicle