SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Barry Bonds put on a San Francisco Giants uniform Monday morning for the first time since his final major league game as a player in 2007. He is noticeably slimmer than in his final seasons as a player -- he has shed considerable weight since becoming an avid cyclist -- so the uniform is probably a somewhat smaller size than he previously wore, but he was delighted to wear it again.
At 49, Bonds says he could still hit balls out of the park, but the game's controversial home run king is not here to do that. He is here to work for the next seven days as a roving instructor for the Giants and manager Bruce Bochy. He expressed interest in working beyond that in some role but needs to see how things go first.
"I'm more nervous at this than when I was playing, because as a player, it was only my mind. Me,'' Bonds said, addressing several dozen reporters. "Now I'm trying to put that [knowledge] into other players' minds. I'm a little more nervous being on this side than that side. Hopefully I can just bring some good value to the ballclub. Hopefully, I can bring value to these guys and then let Bochy see how I do. I would rather let them evaluate me and then hopefully something good can come out of this.''
Bonds said the idea of working as an instructor came up at a recent charity event and that it was a good time to get back in the game.
"The timing was right on both sides,'' Bochy said. "That's why it's happening now. We welcome all former players. If you look at our camp, Jeff Kent just left. J.T. Snow is here. Rich Aurilia is here. Randy Winn is here. Will Clark is coming in. And we're excited about Barry being here to help out in so many different aspects of the game. Not just hitting. This guy was a tremendous baserunner and outfielder.
"I think it's going to be good for both sides. Good for Barry to see how this will work for him and good for the players to work with one of the great minds in baseball.''
When Mark McGwire returned as a hitting coach with the Cardinals several years ago, he admitted that he had taken performance enhancing drugs. Bonds, however, was not so forthcoming.
"I already went to court and that's where I'll leave it,'' he said when confronted on the subject. "And I think anything outside that doesn't need to be commented on.''
Bonds also didn't elaborate much when asked whether he thought this instructional role might help rehabilitate his image and help with his chances with Hall of Fame voters.
"I think you guys are all adults," he said. "I have no advice for you.''
He did, however, say there is no doubt he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
In his final season, Bonds hit 28 home runs, broke Hank Aaron's career homer record and finished with a 1.045 OPS, yet never received an offer to play again. Asked whether he had been blackballed or had any regrets about the way his playing career ended, Bonds said that was in the past and he is looking to the future. He said his only regret was that he didn't have a better relationship with the media.
Indeed, Bonds was all smiles and friendly during the news conference, much different than his occasionally standoffish, sometimes surly persona as a player.