By Daniel Brown, San Jose Mercury News –
SAN FRANCISCO — At peace with a legal process that left him, in his words, “a convicted felon,” all-time home run leader Barry Bonds is eager to start a new chapter in his life. Bonds wants a hands-on role coaching Giants players and said he is in talks with upper management about returning to the organization.
Bonds sounded ready to start Monday, indicating he had advice in mind for the team’s struggling ace.
“If (Tim) Lincecum wants the answers, I’ll give them to him,” Bonds said outside the Giants clubhouse before the game.
This was a rare visit to AT&T Park for the seven-time MVP, who was on hand for as part of a charity event for Big Brothers & Sisters of the Bay Area. Earlier in the day, Bonds spoke at the services of Alexis Busch, a former Giants bat girl who died in a boating accident near the Farralon Islands on April 14.
Looking sleek as the result of his new devotion to cycling, Bonds visited with Willie Mays and Lon Simmons in the Giants clubhouse before beckoning the reporters who had been staking him out. “Attack,” he joked, waving them over.
What followed was a 30-minute session that alternated between jovial, blunt and philosophical. Bonds was most enthusiastic when talking about a potential role with the Giants, saying he was willing to help anyone from recent draft picks to players on the current roster.
“My expertise is baseball. That’s the only role I can have,” said Bonds, now 47. He said he has spoken with CEO Larry Baer, but nothing is definite or even imminent. “If you believe that I can contribute and help the organization, then fine. If you don’t, I still love you,” Bonds said.
Bonds last played in 2007, when he hit the final 28 of his 762 career home runs. Since then, his most notable appearances have come in the courtroom. He appealed his obstruction of justice conviction from April 2011 on one count of giving an evasive answer to a 2003 grand jury investigating illegal steroids distribution.
“Do I have any regrets? What happened, happened. It’s there. It is what it is. I live with it,” Bonds said. “I’m a convicted felon for obstruction of justice, and that’s who I am.”
Bonds joked about not having much of a public image even before the trial but acknowledged the legal process took its toll.
“My heart doesn’t really sting. It doesn’t hurt,” Bonds said. “It did for a moment. But you get past it. You have to heal.”
After his session with reporters, he joined the broadcast booth and also mingled with fans and posed for photos. He seemed nothing like the surly character who embraced the villain’s role during his playing days.
“I created that guy out there for entertainment only. Whether you hated me or liked me, you were there. And I only wanted you there,” Bonds said. “I just wanted you to see the show. That was it. All I ever wanted was for people to have a good time and enjoy it.”
Bonds, who will be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in December, shrugged off talk about his chances, saying: “It would be very sad if it didn’t happen. That’s why I don’t need to comment on it. There’s really no need.”
Bonds stays active these days with his new passion, cycling. He said he has trained with the Bissell team that recently rode in the Tour of California and estimated he has logged as many as 400 miles a week before recent hip and back injuries.
Bonds’ slugger physique has given way to a leaner body, as he patted his midsection and said he was down to 212-215 pounds.
“As an athlete you’re always looking for something on the edge,” Bonds said. “Cycling put me in the hospital a couple times and on the edge—and I like it.”
As for baseball, Bonds said that if given a chance to coach, he would focus on small adjustments not overhauls. That goes for Lincecum, who is 2-5 with a 6.41 ERA.
“He’s a great pitcher. He doesn’t have two Cy Youngs by accident,” Bonds said “It’s how he deals with it and his preparation. Each year gets tough to figure out things, and you have to make some changes.
“The faster he can do that he’ll turn things around. . . . Sometimes you have to go through this to get better. I went through it. We all go through it.”