MIAMI – If Barry Bonds thinks a full-time return to baseball will help his Hall of Fame chances, he could be disappointed. Maybe he’ll at least help the Miami Marlins.
Bonds is joining the staff of new Marlins manager Don Mattingly as hitting coach. The media-shy, steroids-tainted home run king made a rare conference call appearance Friday to discuss his hiring, which raised his profile just as balloting is under way for 2016 Hall of Fame voting.
“I’m a Hall of Fame baseball player with no doubt in my mind, no doubt in my heart,” said Bonds, 51. “God knows that. That’s all that matters to me. I’ll leave the voting process up to you guys.”
Another slugger whose career was tarnished by steroids, Mark McGwire, was hired this week as bench coach of the San Diego Padres. Hall of Fame support for McGwire has declined since he began coaching in 2010, and last year he received his lowest vote total.
McGwire was hitting coach for Mattingly the past three seasons when both were with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria first suggested hiring Bonds, according to team president David Samson. Mattingly seconded the idea.
“I’m extremely impressed with Barry’s willingness to be part of this team, and with his excitement about being back and teaching,” Mattingly said.
The Marlins need hitting advice. In 2015, when they finished 71-91, they ranked next to last in the majors in runs and home runs, and last in walks – an area where Bonds excelled.
Among the players he’ll tutor is $325 million slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
“I don’t need to tell Stanton much,” Bonds said. “He’s a great ballplayer. All I need to do is tweak a couple of things here and there and keep him motivated. Some players I may have to work a little bit more.”
Bonds is the career leader in home runs with 762 and a seven-time National League MVP. His playing career ended in 2007, and he has worked as a guest instructor for the San Francisco Giants in spring training. He has privately tutored several players, including Alex Rodriguez.
Bonds said he’s not upset the Giants didn’t offer him a full-time position and excited to join the Marlins.
“San Francisco is my home,” he said, “but this is the opportunity that came up.”
Bonds said he enjoys teaching and plans to put in long hours with Miami.
“The only way I’m going to be able to do this is I’ve got to be in the trenches with the players to get their attention,” he said. “Me being there day in and day out, I think I bring a lot to the table. I don’t know if I’m going to be good at this or not, but I will be dedicated to it.”
The Marlins’ hitting coach last year, Frank Menechino, will return as assistant hitting coach. Mattingly hired Juan Nieves as pitching coach and Lorenzo Bundy as outfield-base running coach.
Federal prosecutors pursued a case against Bonds for nearly a decade before dropping what remained of their criminal case in July. But because of the taint of steroids, he’s come up short in Hall of Fame balloting.
Nearly a year ago, in his third try on the ballot, Bonds received 202 votes for 37 percent from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. A player must receive at least 75 percent to be elected.
The voting, Bonds said, is out of his hands.
“Me coming back to the game, I’m in a different capacity,” he said. “I’m now a rookie coach. It’s not about me. It’s about those guys on the team now. Now my job is to help other players fulfill their dreams.”
The rest of Mattingly’s staff will include bench coach Tim Wallach, first-base/infield coach Perry Hill, third-base coach Lenny Harris, bullpen coach Reid Cornelius and catching coach Brian Schneider.
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