Must-clink link: Barry Bonds, cycling through retirement

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Gwenn Knapp of Sports on Earth has an excellent profile/catch-you-up with Barry Bonds. What’s up with the Home Run King? Some highlights:

  • Spurred on by his girlfriend, former world champion and Olympic silver medalist cycler Mari Holden, Barry Bonds’ new obsession is cycling. He’s good. Not great, but good. And has taken to it with the same sort of abandon to which he used to take baseball, working out and generalized surliness.
  • But he’s not as surly these days. People who know him describe him as relaxed. He never handled the spotlight well. Now he’s out of it. You get the sense that Bonds, for the first time in a long time, is at peace. Maybe because he is not expected to be the absolute best, either by himself or by others.
  • Because of his obstruction of justice conviction — his very dubious conviction, but conviction all the same — Bonds is barred from owning a firearm. Which was problematic for him as, before cycling, he had become an avid skeet shooter and hunter. There’s a bit in there about Ryan Klesko introducing him to hunting that, I feel like anyway, could have become a sitcom circa 2003.
  • Oh, and there’s a better anecdote in there about him telling Kirk Reuter’s wife how to get pregnant. Which, well. Just read it.

But the more interesting stuff comes after that. Stuff about his playing days and relationships with teammates. Some of it is old, some of it new (at least to me) but all of it looks different now with some years between us and a time when Bonds was the biggest star in the game. And it looks different in light of the stuff Knapp talks about earlier in the piece.

It doesn’t serve as any kind of apology for Bonds, his cheating or his surliness. You don’t come away from it liking Barry Bonds as a result (I think that’d be hard regardless). But you do feel like you understand the guy a little more. Or at least understand why you’ll probably never understand him.  All of which is exactly what a good profile of a famous person should do.

Great piece.

The Giants are considering Pablo Sandoval at second base

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Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.

It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.

Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.