Bonds enjoying his new job as he returns to San Francisco
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 visitor's 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 doing much to make their new hitting coach look good. Justin Bour is batting .227, Giancarlo Stanton is at .224, J.T. Realmuto is at .205 and Marcell Ozuna is at .200.
''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 Thursday. ''He seems like he's having fun. This is as `feeling happy' as I've seen him in a while.''
Not that the Marlins' experiment with Bonds - which was owner Jeffrey Loria's idea - can be declared a success yet.
Bonds is back in the majors for the first time since his final season as a player in 2007, easing into the role with help from assistant hitting coach Frank Menechino. There has been skepticism Bonds will long endure the daily grind, hours and travel that come with coaching.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said the jury's still out.
''Him getting used to the coaching part of it is a work in progress from a standpoint of the amount of time and the preparation,'' Mattingly said. ''You see Frankie still doing a lot of the prep work. Barry is still getting into the routine of the ugly side of coaching - being here at 1, and studying video, and studying on the plane and you don't get a chance to watch movies, and things like that.
''It just depends how good you want to be as a coach. If you want to be a really good coach, you've got to do the work.''
Bonds spends several hours a day watching his hitters hit. But he also makes time for himself, heading off on one of his two performance bikes every morning around 7:30.
Sure, there will be titters on Twitter about how a steroids-tainted home run king is into cycling. But Bonds isn't pedaling to win.
''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.
AP freelance Writer Walter Villa in Miami contributed to this report.