MIAMI (AP) Barry Bonds bicycles across the Rickenbacker Causeway on his daily morning ride, Biscayne Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, a complicated past behind him.
Most of the time he looks ahead – to this weekend, for example. He’s heading for home.
Bonds will return to San Francisco for a three-game series, still wearing orange and black but now in a different role with a different team. The former Giants slugger will be in the visitors dugout as hitting coach for the Miami Marlins, and he doesn’t think it’s as strange as it sounds.
“It’s not going to feel strange,” Bonds said. “That’s my home. That will always be my home. I don’t feel strange at home.”
He’s making a second home in Miami, and all indications are he enjoys his new job. Every time a TV camera shows Bonds during a game, which is often, he seems to be grinning.
A snapshot moment: When leadoff hitter Dee Gordon ended a recent 16-pitch at-bat with a single, Bonds clapped, waved his fist and shouted, “Woo!” Gordon later came around to score, and Bonds greeted him with a gleeful hug.
“It’s nice to be back on the field,” Bonds said. “I like it a lot. It feels better on this side than when I was playing. I was always focused in on, `I’ve got to do the next job. I’ve got to go play defense.’ Now I get to be on this side and enjoy it. When I see something they are working so hard on, it’s exciting.”
Bonds was upbeat even though the Marlins are off to another dismal start and not hitting much for their new hitting coach. Justin Bour went into Thursday’s game batting .225, Giancarlo Stanton was at .224, J.T. Realmuto was at .205 and Marcell Ozuna was at .196.
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Bonds said. “These guys are young players. You expect bumps in the road. That’s the whole challenge of it.”
Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker managed Bonds with the Giants, and they talked about the challenge of it during a series this week in Miami.
“It’s good for him to be back in baseball,” Baker said. “He seems like he’s having fun. This is as `feeling happy’ as I’ve seen him in a while.”
Bonds is back in the majors for the first time since his final season as a player in 2007, and he has readapted to the daily grind, while finding time for himself.
Sure, there will be titters on Twitter about how a steroids-tainted home run king is into cycling. But Bonds isn’t out to win when he heads off on one of his two performance bikes every morning around 7:30.
“I ride about two hours and watch all the young people beat me,” said Bonds, 51. “I’m making some good friends. I’d like to ride in a group, but it’s hard because of the times. They want to get out there at 6 o’clock. But I’m not getting out there at 6 o’clock after a night game.”
The bikes go on the road with him, and they’re going to San Francisco.
“I will ride my bike like I always do, over the bridge, over to Sausalito,” he said.
Sounds beautiful. But then the panoramic scene atop the Rickenbacker Causeway is breathtaking, too.
Which view is better? Bonds’ expression answered the question.
“That’s funny,” he said. “Not even worth commenting on.”
San Francisco is still home.
Freelancer Walter Villa in Miami contributed to this report.