Programming note: Giants Insider Andrew Baggarly is in Arizona; check back for his coverage throughout spring training and watch SportsNet Central nightly at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the day’s MLB news.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Sincerity wasn’t always one of Barry Bonds’ trademarks during his record-setting career.
But there was no better word to describe his actions and efforts in his second day as a spring training guest instructor. With the national media and the cameras gone, Bonds got to work early, analyzed several players, gave intensive instruction to some of them, talked non-stop -- and his every word was met with rapt attention.
Yes, he even swung a bat.
“Looks the same,” said Brandon Crawford, who worked with Bonds both in an indoor cage and on the field for batting practice. “Swing looks good. … he claims he hasn’t swung a bat in six years.”
Before the Giants hit the field for their morning stretch, Bonds took swings off the machine in the indoor cage while demonstrating for Hunter Pence. Crawford was on his way back to the clubhouse. When he heard Bonds talking, he reversed course.
Bonds’ message: keep your front shoulder closed.
“Everything that I heard him talk about this morning is keeping your swing as simple as possible, and he explains it in the simplest ways,” said Crawford, who has been searching for his timing while getting off to a 2-for-20 start this spring.
Crawford immediately tried to incorporate Bonds’ tips during batting practice on the field.
“I’m starting with my shoulder a lot more closed, not flying open,” Crawford said. “His big thing is that my hands are fast enough to get to an inside pitch. I don’t need to cheat with my body.”
Michael Morse heard a similar message. The big right-handed power hitter asked Bonds how he always got to inside pitches. Bonds proceeded to snag a baseball and tell Morse to get in his stance while holding his bat. Then Bonds would flip baseballs to Morse at random times and tell him to try to catch it with his right hand.
“It wasn’t really a drill as much as proving a point,” Morse said. “If you can catch the ball with your hand, why can’t you catch it with your bat?”
So how was it?
“Oh my gosh, are you kidding me?” Morse said. “The guy’s amazing. To have Barry Bonds watching me hit? I can cross that off my bucket list.”
There were no distractions as Bonds made his rounds. The only media members were the regular beat reporters; one national writer from Yahoo! Sports stopped by, but he was writing about Tim Lincecum.
Giants hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens introduced Bonds to a pair of left-handed hitters, Nick Noonan and Roger Kieschnick, who have struggled to make adjustments at the big league level. Bonds watched them take BP in their own group and offered constant comments as they shuffled in and out of the cage. They got so carried away that they had to hustle back into the clubhouse and run to catch the bus to play the Reds at Goodyear. They would’ve missed it if a car hadn’t been illegally parked and blocking the driveway.
A personal clinic with Bonds would’ve been worth missing the bus, though.
“He’s only here for a week and he’ll try to get in as much work as he can,” Crawford said. “I know everybody has questions for him.”
That includes Willie Mays. After the Giants finished their workout, Bonds and his Godfather sat at a table and their laughter could be heard all the way up the ramp.