SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Barry Bonds loves Michael Morse’s “natural strength,” he marvels at how Hunter Pence is “in the red zone all the time” and after one day in earnest as a spring training guest instructor, he’s encouraged by what he sees.
This is no stunt. Bonds is here to work, and seemingly every hitter in Giants camp is taking a bakery ticket.
[RELATED: Bonds quietly gets to work]
With the bus gone to Goodyear and the workout finished, Bonds made time for myself and two other beat reporters outside the trainer’s room to summarize his experience Tuesday. Here’s what he said:
Q: You worked quite a bit with Brandon Crawford. What do you think his potential could be?
A: I don’t even think anything on the first day. It’s what he believes in. That’s what it comes down to. Does he believe what you’re saying makes sense, and is it simple enough he can use it? In baseball it’s always, `Go back to the beginning and run forward. Then go back to the beginning and run forward again.’ Whenever you think you’ve beaten the system, the system catches up to you and you’ve got to rewind and start over again, and that’s baseball. It’s never easy.
Q: You made it look pretty easy.
A: (Laughs) When you think you’ve got it going good, that’s when you panic because those times are short lived. But a lot of times as a hitter you create negativity when really, a lot of positive things happened. Line drive to center field. He caught it. Move on.
Q: You worked a bit with Michael Morse. What do you think about him?
A: Ohhh! Amazing. That guy is unbelievably strong. He has that Dave Kingman natural strength. If he keeps it simple, he’ll be fine. He knows he can do a lot. A big strong hitter like that, when it barely goes over the fence it doesn’t seem like it’s enough.
Q: You spent some time indoors with Hunter Pence, who has a unique personality. What’s your impression of him?
A: (Laughs) I don’t know how he’s in the -- what would you call it -- the red zone all the time. He never slows down. He’s very high alert. I love his strength and his power and his mindset. He is strong in his head, which I like. He’s not soft. If you’re soft in this game, you’ll get beat a lot. He is not soft and I like that.
Q: He doesn’t exactly have perfect mechanics.
A: Only Jesus is perfect. The rest of us gotta keep doing our own thing.
Q: Aside from the regulars, you worked with Roger Kieschnick and Nick Noonan who haven’t yet found success in the big leagues. Do you think you can help them?
A: You have to get to know someone first. They have to believe in themselves and that’s the key. They’re good players. They’re strong. They showed that in batting practice. Now it’s building up the confidence that they can do it more often. You realize you’re going to fail a lot more than be successful. You don’t minimize it but you can’t dwell on it.
Q: How will you go about your work this week, knowing there is already a regular hitting coach (Hensley Meulens) and an assistant (Joe Lefebvre)?
A: I like the philosophy. I like what they’re doing. It seems we’re all going in the same direction. I have to know what they’re telling them and make sure not to ever overstep the boundaries. But Hensley, I love what he thinks and what he says, and he puts in a lot of time which is what matters. He can’t hit for them. I can’t hit for them, Willie can’t. But I like the approach.
Q: Do you find that some of the keys you try to impart are similar to the basic lessons your dad taught you?
A: My dad was tough. (Laughs) Willie and my dad were harder on me. I was raised by them so I didn’t get any leeway. I was beat down and had to get back up. I can tell which guys here are more sensitive and which guys get it. But they’re all really good hitters and they have a really good pitching staff in front of them. … But my father and me is a different story. I don’t know if they could take what my dad would say, or Willie.