Barry Bonds, Miami Marlins could both benefit if HR king hired as hitting coach
Baseball welcomed back Mark McGwire. It would have no choice but to welcome back Barry Bonds.
The Marlins are considering hiring Bonds as one of their two hitting coaches, as first reported by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. The team should do it, and take advantage of the all-time home run leader’s remarkable expertise.
Article continues below ...
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 1, 2015
Bonds, 51, has not been employed in baseball since his last season as a player in 2007. We all have our opinions about whether he used performance-enhancing drugs. But his record, at least, is clean; Bonds never tested positive for PEDs, and a federal appeals court in April overturned his one felony conviction, for obstructing justice.
As far as baseball is concerned, Bonds is a member in good standing, just as McGwire was when he rejoined the Cardinals as their hitting coach in January 2010.
McGwire acknowledged using PEDs after accepting that position, explaining to MLB Network’s Bob Costas that he told the Cardinals, “I have to come clean.”
Bonds will make no such admission. He will not apologize the way McGwire did to Commissioner Bud Selig and his former Cardinals manager, Tony La Russa. Unlike McGwire, Bonds does not appear burdened by his past.
He testified under oath that he never knowingly used PEDs. The book, “Game of Shadows,” told a different story. But is anyone even interested in continuing the debate?
At this point, Bonds’ next chapter would be far more interesting.
Coaching came naturally for McGwire, who is comfortable remaining in the background and quietly assisting hitters. Bonds is much more an alpha personality, and it’s difficult to picture him embracing a reduced stature in the clubhouse dynamic.
Still, Bonds worked last offseason with hitters such as Alex Rodriguez and Dexter Fowler, and also has served as a spring-training instructor for the Giants. He surely understands that coaching is grunt work, and that his job would be to serve others, not himself. Shame on him if he could not co-exist with new Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who is one of the most affable men in the sport — and pretty knowledgeable about hitting in his own right.
Would Bonds be open with the media, expanding upon his hitting philosophies? Who cares? Some hitting coaches speak frequently with reporters, others don’t. If Bonds wanted to talk, great. If not, we could write our stories without him, and it would be a heck of a lot easier than it was during his playing days.
One thing seems certain: Bonds wouldn’t be getting into coaching to improve his Hall of Fame chances. Returning to uniform didn’t helped McGwire, whose vote totals actually have declined since ’10. Bonds has received significantly higher percentages than McGwire in his three years on the ballot, but has yet to command 40 percent of the vote, with 75 percent required for induction.
For Bonds, this would be about baseball, about sharing his wisdom with younger players. His knowledge of hitting never was in question, even when so much else about him was the subject of intense debate.
The Marlins would benefit from that knowledge. Any team would.