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. – Peter Magowan is no longer the Giants’ managing partner, no longer in the middle of all the big decisions.
He knows nothing is more annoying than when an emeritus professor tries to run a department meeting.
But the man who brought Barry Bonds to San Francisco cannot help but be pleased to see the all-time home run leader taking the first steps to reconnect with the organization. Bonds arrives on Monday as a spring training instructor.
“There are a lot of sides to Barry that people haven’t seen,” said Magowan, who signed Bonds to a then-record contract shortly after his group purchased the Giants in 1992. “There are a lot of good things he’s done for the community, going to hospitals. The Giants weren’t always trying to publicize it and he wasn’t trying to publicize it.”
Maybe this is the beginning of Bonds’ attempt to revise his image, to gain some acceptance after most of the country watched with discomfort as he broke Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record in 2007 while being at the center of a federal probe into a Burlingame-based lab peddling steroids and other illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
There are other admitted steroid users who have ingratiated themselves in baseball again. Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire quietly goes about his business these days. Matt Williams, who was named in the Mitchell Report, is the rookie manager of the Washington Nationals.
Bonds, seen by many as the biggest and baddest transgressor from the game’s steroid era, is a pariah on another level. But the Giants are willing to rekindle an official relationship with him. And Magowan, long viewed as Bonds’ primary enabler within the organization, is pleased that the seven-time MVP isn’t being held at arm’s length.
The Giants, after all, are among the best in baseball when it comes to celebrating their greats. As for retiring Bonds’ number, and building a statue, and everything else …
“I’m not the person to answer that question,” Magowan said. “You can guess my opinion.”
Bonds will hold a media availability at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, and is pondering national requests from “60 Minutes” to ESPN. It’ll be hoopla for a day, the Giants expect. But then they believe things will quiet down and Bonds will get to work helping hitters in camp.
“In terms of hitting, I don’t think anyone could know more,” Magowan said.
Giants hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens said he expects Bonds to serve in the same role that Jeff Kent, J.T. Snow, Randy Winn and other guest instructors serve when they drop into camp.
“We don’t know what Barry is going to say,” Meulens said. “He’s never done it. But I think it’s going to work out. If you can learn something from the best hitter of our era, why not?”
Giants hitting coaches stress giving players a consistent message. Meulens said he didn’t believe Bonds would say anything that strays too far from the organization’s philosophy. And because assistant hitting coach Joe Lefebvre served as the club’s main hitting coach toward the end of Bonds’ playing career, they have a good working relationship already.
“He’ll communicate when he sees something and he’ll tell us what he says to the player,” Meulens said. “That’s what we tell all these (special instructors). `When you see something, say it.’ That’s the best way we know how to do this.”