Barry Bonds is back in a Giants uniform as a spring training instructor and Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com writes that “his every word was met with rapt attention” from players.
For instance, outfielder Michael Morse got some tutoring on his swing and afterward told Baggarly:
Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? The guy’s amazing. To have Barry Bonds watching me hit? I can cross that off my bucket list.
Shortstop Brandon Crawford also gave Bonds’ tutoring positive reviews and got a rare glimpse at the seven-time MVPs current swing:
Looks the same. Swing looks good. He claims he hasn’t swung a bat in six years. … 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.
And last but not least, a story about Giants minor leaguers Nick Noonan and Roger Kieschnick meeting Bonds:
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.
Something to consider next time you read a column about Bonds being a universally despised monster.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.