By Don Ketchum
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Barry Bonds certainly thinks he’s worthy of election to the Hall of Fame.
“Without a doubt,” baseball’s home run king said Monday at the San Francisco Giants’ spring training camp, where he will serve as a hitting instructor for a week.
The 49-year-old Bonds spent his last 15 big league seasons with San Francisco, finishing in 2007 with 762 homers.
But his final years were clouded by suspicions of performance-enhancing drug use, and the seven-time NL MVP was convicted of one obstruction count in April 2011 by a jury that found an answer he gave was criminally evasive during 2003 testimony before a grand jury investigating the distribution of PEDs. And he didn’t even come close to election to the Hall in his first two turns on the ballot.
Advice for the writers who have not voted for him: “You guys are all adults. I have no advice for you.”
One topic he wouldn’t discuss: Alex Rodriguez, who is serving a season-long drug suspension.
Bonds said he respects Rodriguez and will talk to him individually, “not in a press conference.”
Meeting with about three dozen media for about 30 minutes on a patio overlooking the left field area at Scottsdale Stadium, Bonds wanted to put the controversial past behind him.
“It feels really good to be back,” Bonds said. “It feels good to give back to the game that I love. Hopefully, I’ll be a part of this longer. … I’m enjoying it.
“I am more nervous at this than I was playing, because it was only my mind and me. Hopefully I can bring good value to the ballclub. We’ll see how it works out,” he added. “I don’t even know if I’m good at it.”
Looking about 30 pounds lighter than his playing weight of 230 and considerably more affable, Bonds wore an orange-and-black Giants cap, a black windbreaker and baseball pants, ready for the first day of work in a seven-day stay in camp.
He appeared relaxed, laughing and joking more in a few minutes than he did during the years when he ruled the team’s clubhouse from his corner reclining chair.
“I’m just a different character. I was a different character playing,” he said. “Now I’ve had time to slow down, do other things. I needed that guy to play, it’s who I was at the time. I’m the same person, just a different character. … Teammates used to say, you don’t play when you’re nice. It worked. Whatever it was, it worked.”
After meeting with the media, Bonds watched Posey and others intently in the batting cage.
“The timing was right. That’s why it’s happening now,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s good for Barry to see how it’s going to work for him. To me, he is one of the greatest minds in baseball.”
Would he perhaps like to manage some day?
“I want to try and get through these seven days first,” he said with a laugh.