All-time home run king Barry Bonds is a few months shy of 50 years old, and in the six years since his retirement, he’s shedded much of the bulk that was the source of so much power and controversy over the years.
But if you think the guy can’t still rake, well, has he got news for you.
Bonds, who was recently brought on for a week as a special hitting instructor with the San Francisco Giants, took a few swings during BP at Giants spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Sunday, and according to those who were there, Mr. 762 has still got it.
According to the Mercury News, Bonds “hit rope after rope,” at the back field at Scottsdale Stadium, “and on his last few swings unloaded some massive blasts into the adjoining neighborhood.” Of course, never one to be shy about his own abilities, Bonds said he knew he had it in him.
“Yeah, easy, no worries,” he told the paper. “Maybe in about 5-6 more years I’ll start to slow down. But today ain’t the day.”
With that kind of confidence and that kind of stroke, one might even take the leap and suggest that Bonds, even as a near-quinquagenarian, could still play today. But Bonds was quick to point out that, even if the swing is still there, his wheels have long since left him.
“I felt like I needed to put on my No. 25 and go out there and play,” Bonds, who had 12 seasons with at least 28 stolen bases, said after the brief BP session. “I just couldn’t run. But I can still hit, though.”
Coaching, however, could be in Bonds’ future. Bonds’ stint with the Giants ended on Sunday, but manager Bruce Bochy and multiple players told the Mercury News that they appreciated Bonds’ insight during his time with the team.
“I learned a lot of things from him, and just having him here was exciting,” Pablo Sandoval told the Mercury News. “He’s one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball. With me, he didn’t want to change my approach. He just wanted me to focus on being ready to hit.”
And if the Giants will have him back, it sounds like Bonds would be more than eager to give a few pointers and take a few swings again.
“I don’t know,” Bonds said. “It’s up to them, it’s up to Bochy, it’s up to the guys. It doesn’t matter what I want to do. The only thing that matters is whether I brought a contribution to the team. Did the guys like it? If they didn’t like it, then this is a short story.”
Now, for some links:
• Indiana’s athletic director on the decision to end the season after not making the NIT field: “We’re Indiana, we don’t play in the CBI.”